Operators, agents and destination representatives attended the inaugural Wildlife, Safari and Conservation Summit to discuss the role of the travel trade in safeguarding eco-systems.
The day included meetings for exhibitors to meet with potential trade buyers and business partners, while delegates also joined in a number of “discussion hubs” covering topics such as animal welfare in tourism, travel without plastic and the latest thinking on engaging with existing and new customers in online marketing, PR
and social media.
TV wildlife expert Mike Dilger of BBC’s The One Show hosted a panel with Hurtigruten’s UK general manager Anthony Daniels, Audley Travel’s Africa product manager Jonny May, Steppes Travel’s product and sales director Jarrod Kyte and Explore Africa’s product manager Naomi Jackson, in which the opportunities and challenges faced when focusing on wildlife, safari and conservation travel as a business were debated.
“It was clear from the panel that when – and what – to say about the damaging news people hear with regards to overtourism, plastics and animal welfare can be a tricky conversation to have,” said Debbee Dale, director of the event.
“But conservation is now so important when customers select their operator that it’s important for each company selling these types of holidays to really get on top of their game. It would be easy to continue to sell as you do now, but to grow and prosper changes must be made.”
Other speakers included Holly Budge, adventurer and founder of conservation charity How Many Elephants, as well as marine biologists Tom Hird and Alison Towner, and Elizabeth Cuevas from World Cetacean Alliance, who all explored the challenges facing the world’s oceans and assessed what the trade can do to help.
“We’re thrilled to have created the first conference purely for the trade focused on this area,” added Dale. “We now need to build momentum for our next summit in October 2020 and hope to continue to provide the necessary platform to drive genuine change for the good of the growing experiential travel market.”