To Help Support Local Communities, Try Traveling to Africa in the Off Season

Seasonality presents a universal challenge to job security in the tourism industry, from Asia to Africa and across Europe and the Americas. As soon as prime time wraps, many resorts lay off most of their workers—or so-called employees may be granted unpaid leave for months, but that’s the best-case scenario. In Africa, where one salary can support a dozen family members, safaris are a prime example of economic disparity. Ask anyone if it’s a drag only earning in certain months of the year, and we can predict the answer.

“Stretching the safari season means providing wages for longer,” says Aardvark Safaris co-owner, Richard Smith. “The camps we work with support communities, empower women, and fund education and medical clinics. Each lodge’s network is immense, and so encouraging guests to travel outside peak times helps a long way down the line.”

In Kenya and Tanzania, dry season assumes top billing—from June through October and December to March, the climate is considered more amenable to open-top cruising for animal viewings. Botswana can be busiest in September and October, when it’s often unbearably hot. Operators and agents often encourage guests to head to southern Africa after the April rains, as May’s greener season rewards clients with better deals and juicier photographs.

When tourism is otherwise down, however, we’re much more willing to take a punt on, say, November. Possibly risking a few showers doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice when it means being the center of attention for extra-appreciative guides.

There are perks aplenty to traveling off-peak. Most notably, with one in ten people employed by the tourism industry globally (according to the World Travel and Tourism Council), it can be immeasurably helpful for local communities if we skip high season. Post-season shutdowns spark instability and underemployment. Hospitality brands looking after their teams around the year should also be important for places in seasonal destinations. It’s during these slow spells that would-be green hotels show their true socioeconomic sustainability colors.

If a hotel is located somewhere with a pronounced tourism season, caring for staff when there are no paying guests dictates its eco credentials—regardless of solar panel or green building certifications.

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Source: Condé Nast Traveler

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