The management team of the Wildlife, Safari and Conservation Summit (WSCS) have taken a difficult decision in light of the current uncertainty in the travel trade due to the coronavirus outbreak.
We have come to the conclusion that postponement is now the only responsible option for WSCS. This important trade summit on conservation and wildlife tourism will take a break in this historic year of 2020 and we hope to re-convene in 2021. Although there appears to be nothing but bad news being circulated at the moment and this is clearly a very challenging time for travellers, tourist boards, cruise companies, airlines and tour operators; if you dig a little deeper, there are some positive stories and in particular, nature is enjoying a very welcome break.
Signs of hope
We may look back on the coronavirus crisis as an environmental wake-up call. Reduced carbon emissions, reduced river pollution from diesel, petrol and oil, reduced over-tourism caused by less thoughtful travellers and companies and reduced plastic waste are already making a positive difference. Mother Nature is enjoying the opportunity and is claiming what is rightfully hers.
We have seen reports of clear, non-polluted skies over China for the first time in years due to reduced manufacturing. Scientists from the US space agency NASA said the reduction in levels of nitrogen dioxide - a noxious gas emitted by motor vehicles and industrial facilities - was first apparent near the source of the outbreak in Wuhan city, but then spread across the country. Air travel contributes more than two percent of global CO2 emissions and we are already seeing a positive effect on global emissions.
Residents of Venice have reported spotting dolphins, swans and fish in newly clear canal waters after the usually bustling city went quiet as coronavirus spread throughout Italy Venice, much maligned for over-tourism in recent years.
These, and countless other similar examples, are demonstrating how quickly change could benefit nature and the unexpected positives we are seeing at this difficult time may yet become the beacon for conservationists and advocates for responsible tourism. Let's hope so.
Looking forward to 2021
It is with regret now that we put this important summit on hold for a year, but it is with optimism that we look forward to tourism returning with a more responsible outlook and a future where the travel industry respects and values nature.
Please contact us if you would like to comment or register your interest for a future summit of a similar nature.
We look forward to seeing you at WSCS in 2021. Mark, Hannah, Debbee, Lori & Chris. The WSCS Team