The Rock

Written by Peter Pittendrigh on July 23rd, 2023

Embracing Change: The Thrilling Future of Small Businesses in Africa's Safari Industry

As the founder of a boutique safari business, Map2Africa, I am both humbled and excited by the opportunities that lie ahead in the ever-changing landscape of Africa’s safari industry. The industry, globally celebrated for its incredible wildlife, diverse cultural experiences, and awe-inspiring scenery, is undergoing a significant shift that small businesses like ours are uniquely positioned to navigate.

Understanding the Shift in the Safari Industry

Traditionally, Africa’s safari market was dominated by large-scale, commercial tours. However, recent years have seen a strong lean towards experiences that are not only unique and personalised but also deeply respectful of the local cultures and environment.

Today’s discerning travellers are moving away from one-size-fits-all packages, instead seeking tailored itineraries that offer genuine connections with the destinations they explore. This shift is reflected in the evolution of safari offerings, with a noticeable surge in experiences centred around community engagement, environmental conservation, and local empowerment.

Why small Businesses Matter

The question is – where does Map2Africa, and similar small-scale operators, fit into this evolving narrative?

  1. Crafting Authentic Experiences: As a small business, we have the flexibility to design and curate one-of-a-kind, immersive experiences that align with the desires of modern travelers.

  2. Championing Sustainable Practices: Our deep connections with local communities and environments place us in a unique position to advocate for and implement sustainable practices in our operations.

  3. Energizing Local Economies: We play a vital role in stimulating local economies by generating employment, sourcing locally, and supporting community projects.

  4. Building Personal Connections: Our close-knit operation enables us to offer personalised service, fostering meaningful connections with our guests that enhance their safari experience.

  5. Pioneering Innovation: As a small business, we’re agile and receptive to change, allowing us to quickly adapt to evolving trends and technologies.

Embracing the Exciting Future

Despite the recent challenges posed by the global health crisis, the prospects for small safari businesses like Map2Africa remain promising. The trend towards responsible, personalised, and enriching travel provides us with an incredible opportunity to reshape the safari industry.

Our role isn’t merely to endure these changes but to leverage them in a way that pushes boundaries, creates unique value, and supports sustainability. We’re not just contributing to an industry – we’re influencing an ecosystem that educates, preserves, and inspires.

I find myself filled with optimism and anticipation as I contemplate the road ahead. The future of Africa’s safari industry is far from merely surviving; it is robustly thriving, evolving, and blossoming with opportunity.

An important aspect of this bright future lies in the spirit of cooperation and support extended to us by the larger lodge groups and operators in this industry. I cannot overstate how pivotal their contribution has been towards creating an environment conducive for small businesses to flourish.

These established groups have set remarkable examples of generosity by offering smaller enterprises like ours the chance to work alongside them. They’ve opened doors for collaboration, contributing to a harmonious ecosystem where entities of all sizes work together towards the shared goal of uplifting the safari experience.

Not only have they provided fair Standard Tour Operator (STO) rates, but they have also extended invaluable training and guidance, empowering us to sell their products with the same expertise and confidence as they do.

This spirit of inclusivity and support has allowed us to steer our own exciting journey in this evolving industry. It is a testament to their belief in the concept that all businesses, big or small, play a crucial role in shaping the overall health and vibrancy of the safari industry.

So, here’s to the larger lodge groups and operators – thank you for being not just accommodating, but welcoming, to small businesses. Thank you for your belief in our potential and for playing a pivotal role in our growth story. The path ahead is indeed bright, and we’re eager to traverse it alongside you, contributing to an even more prosperous and inclusive future for Africa’s safari industry.