Six African countries have been ranked among the world's top ecotourism destinations
The global travel portal Big 7 Travel has compiled a list of 50 destinations
that will appeal to tourists interested in visiting fragile and relatively unspoilt natural areas, often for the benefit of local people. This alternative to standard mass tourism has been gaining momentum over the last few years.
Botswana came second in the ranking, also as one of the most convenient places to observe the "Big Five of Africa". The country is a good example of a skillful tourism policy. In the 1980s, the government heeded the advice of conservationists and began developing high-value, low-volume tourism. Local communities have become direct beneficiaries - lodges and safari operators pay rents that go straight to the communities. In addition, leases are for 15 years, encouraging organisers to invest in the future. Dozens of safari tour operators are investing in local communities to help local villages thrive.
In third place in the ranking is Gambia, the smallest country in continental Africa, best known for its picturesque lagoons, golden beaches and year-round sunshine. After the pandemic, the country began developing alternatives to all-inclusive beach holidays. An excellent example is the Ninki-Ninka eco-trail, which aims to attract tourists from the Gold Coast to explore the rural communities of the Gambia River, along which the country lies.
Mafia Island (Tanzania) is also on the list. The Mafia Island Marine Park stretches over 822 km² of protected waters, making it the largest marine protected area in the Indian Ocean. Its unique ecosystem of coral reefs, mangroves and sea channels teem with different species of fish, including whale sharks.
Also featured in the Big 7 Travel rankings are the North Island of Seychelles, Cape Verde and Mauritius.