This week’s comment comes from owner of Classic Portfolios, Suzanne Bayly-Coupe, who commented on the article on suppliers potentially losing business due to inflexible policies.

This is what she had to say:

“It is interesting that in all these comments about boycotting suppliers who do not refund and how suppliers are breaking the trust of the rather extensive trade channel, not one person has thought about what is the key attraction for coming to Africa?

“What do we build our businesses on and make profits on in the good years? Is this not the people, wilderness and wildlife that Africa offers, which makes up our safari industry? How do you think these areas get protected in these lean times? Who foots the bill for anti-poaching? Who has to keep paying concession fees? Do our trade partners really have no idea of the magnitude of the responsibility that lies with suppliers?

“Already, with the lack of tourism in the year ahead we are seeing an increase in poaching, bush meat pressure and not to mention the vulnerable local communities who are now retrenched or sit at home with reduced salaries.”

“Yes, I get it that 'Mr Smith' in the USA or elsewhere wants his money back and that the trade channel jumps to protect these guests. Yet most of these 'consumers' and the agents or tour operators are from countries with governments who have the ability to support them with bailouts and bridging assistance.

“That does not exist in Africa. We have some relief here in South Africa, but what about our neighbouring countries? I seriously think the industry needs to take time to understand what it costs both financially and in personal commitment to set up and run a commercial lodge that sustainably supports communities and conservation.

“This is not about profit, it is about purpose. Quite frankly the TOs and DMCs who want to profit from Africa in the good years and dump the responsibilities to suppliers in the bad years should be boycotted for not being in this together. I agree with Bernie Smith, talk to us. Let us understand what our pressures are and let us work our way out of this together. We all need Africa to survive for future generations and this requires us all to stand together through this short-term crisis.”

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