Diverse Africa

Discounted rates for locals - is it fair?

68 posts in this topic

Being fairly new to Safaritalk, I have spent a bit of time browsing around the site and found a couple of topics linked to the cost of a safari. As a tour operator based in South Africa, I often see lodges offering discounted rates to local residents. When I see the number of passionate safari-goers on this forum, I have to admit it got me thinking. Is it fair that me being based in South Africa affords me the opportunity to undertake a safari at a cheaper rate than someone in the UK for instance? I realise that in the current economic climate, lodges are under increasing pressure to survive and need to take whatever measures they can to ensure that they fill as many beds as possible. Is there a more fair way of doing this than offering discounted rates to people purely based on where they reside? I would be interested to hear people's views on this.

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Yes, I do believe that this is fair do to the general economic disparity between local residents and people who have the means to travel from Europe, Asia or the US for a safari. I know that this is a gross generalization, but it is my opinion. Also, I believe that it is a reasonable business model designed to maximize occupancy by incenting local residents to stay at a camp/lodge because the cost of a safari holiday will be within more people's reach. This also may have a social/nationalistic benefit as it will be easier for more local residents to visit their national parks (so they will not be for just "rich foreigners").

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Yup i feel not only very fair but also very important. The crux of it is that safari prices are so priced at rack rates because the benchmark is the offshore demand, i.e. to start with American money and now slowly all the new money in Asia. That to me is actually quite a bit unfair on local resident population to begin with. Where would you see any other goods and services that has such a skew in offshore-local affordability. So I dont really see it as discounted pricing but differential pricing. One could argue the real pricing is the pricing for the locals and the marked up pricing for exporting that service offshore. When you want something as badly as we want our safaris, there will always be some places affordable and some places beyond our reach- for almost everyone -unless you are in the top 1000 richest people or whatever.

 

How to make it more fair - offhand can think of 2 ways - to actually invite local people and especially children and teenagers at even lower cost or even free. Some companies do it but a lot many more can do it and in many countries almost nothing like this is done. Secondly the more important thing for safari lovers is there should be something for everyone - and a change in that irks more - when a bushcamp you loved or a camp that was perfectly more than adequate to begin with and it goes the me too way and upgrades. For me personally I have stopped following Bots private concession pricing - What I dont want at USD 1200, I am not likely to want it at USD 1800 either.

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Another question is whether local people want or expect the level of luxury some foreign visitors receive. The costs of which prohibit many local people from experiencing their own wilderness heritage. If local people are disenfranchised from their own countryside, their own wildlife, how can they ever be expected to appreciate it, value it? Protect it? Especially if it is seen as the domain of foreign tourists with little financial benefit for themselves.

 

So how to incentivize local people; what do they want out of a camp? Do menus have to be so fancy? Self catering rather than full board? Is self drive more appropriate? What about bush courses for kids, week long wilderness camps for students etc?

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Absolutely! Residents need to be able to afford the riches in their own backyards! Having lived in two high tourist oriented cities we were always given resident status ~ lower prices; free weekends, etc.

Great PR for the city, and affordable access for us living there where inevitably there could be multiple visits.

 

When I am in Africa I wonder how the locals are ever able to see first hand what the world flocks to see ~ the parks, the culture of Africa, World Heritage Sites, endangered animals, birds, etc. It creates a true disparity with those who have and those who have not. Even if portions of the money from the lodges are going back to the community, the community still has not seen what the "tourists" are coming to see. I had one staff member tell me they had seen a safari drive on TV!

 

If I knew a lodge was giving a portion of my fee back to not only a conservation effort, but to enable them to offer free/reduced prices for locals, I'd be more inclined to spend my money with them. I have often talked to staff members and asked them if they've been out on safari. With the exception of the guides, the usual answer I get is "No, but I am hoping to." Perhaps a canned answer created by the management.

 

I find that extremely sad, and of course presents more of a chasm between guest and the staff...Wouldn't it be nice if we could actually discuss the beauty of Africa's parks; the endangered species we've been fortunate to find; the small 5 along with the big 5 with the people who live there, and not have a "privileged" status because we are doing something special.

 

Of course there will always be those who want to keep it exclusive; only for those rich Americans (although I think its really the rich mid-easterners that spend top dollar, along with a few Euopeans)

 

I've never had and never will pay $1800 pp per day; even "Green Season" rates in Bots are a stretch, as air, other expenditures have to be considered; but I have the ability to chose how much I want to spend, and when I want to go. I would hope all residents could enjoy a couple DAYS experiencing their own continent.

 

IMO..

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Yes it is fair. Discounts for locals occur within cities and counties where I live. For example some days are even free to local residents. One of the justifications is that the local tax dollars support the publicly funded structures, but even the private ventures use locals services supported by tax dollars such as police, fire, road crews, etc.

 

The whole prevention of disenfranchising locals that is mentioned above is a good reason.

 

I have no problem with different pricing structures.

 

Good question.

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interesting to note that this question comes from a South African: at least in parks managed by SanPArks there is a huge difference between entrance fees for residents and those for non-residents ;-)

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Like the rest of respondents to date I have no problem with this either.

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Another question which I feel can be tied into this, but which may rock the boat a little, is how many residents are interested in seeing the wildlife, the wilderness? What percentage of black Africans want to experience the bush, vs white Africans? If a great number are living in poor conditions, no matter their proximity or distance to the parks, would they even want to/could afford to do a discounted trip anyway? What percentage, if they had the money, would, (with a South African focus) rather go to Sun City/Lost City? Even go outside of Africa?

 

to actually invite local people and especially children and teenagers at even lower cost or even free.

 

The importance of Anita's comment cannot be understated. If more disadvantaged communities are to be involved in the future of conservation, then free trips for school groups, (as I have personally sponsored through Chipembele in Zambia) must be encouraged on a more regular basis. The wilderness is there to provide not only jobs and income, but be appreciated as the natural, national heritage... not the domain of the rich foreigner.

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Fair practice ..... The locals have to experience and understand the need to protect their wild spaces, so they need to experience what they have to save it. They hold the key in the long run.

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PS: If anyone from overseas desires to book at "resident rates" - you can always book last minute at the walk-in rates.

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To further rock the boat... The "local/resident market in most African countries consists of the middle/upper class, expats and employees of NGO's. Most other local residents have no interest, time or money to go on safari.

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It is interesting to see that most people support this, especially people who do not directly benefit from the domestic rates. A common them running through all the comments is that local people need to get the chance to experience the safari as the survival of these areas, very often depends on them. More often than not though, it is dependent on buy-in from the communities living close to these parks and Game Warden makes the point

 

If a great number are living in poor conditions, no matter their proximity or distance to the parks, would they even want to/could afford to do a discounted trip anyway?

The reality is that even though the domestic rates are discounted, the majority of people living in close proximity to the parks can still not afford it. The question is, if they could, would they?

I have often talked to staff members and asked them if they've been out on safari. With the exception of the guides, the usual answer I get is "No, but I am hoping to." Perhaps a canned answer created by the management.

 

I find that extremely sad, and of course presents more of a chasm between guest and the staff...Wouldn't it be nice if we could actually discuss the beauty of Africa's parks; the endangered species we've been fortunate to find; the small 5 along with the big 5 with the people who live there, and not have a "privileged" status because we are doing something special.

Graceland, you make a very valid point here, however it is not always that simple on the ground. Having spent a number of years working at lodges I have encouraged staff members to join game drives where there were some empty seats left on the vehicle so they could gain an insight into what it is that guests come to see. Whatever the reason, and it could be that the staff simply felt uncomfortable on a game drive with guests, very few people ever took up these opportunities despite my persistent badgering.

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Posted (edited)

Whenever possible in Botswana at the Kwando camps, we invite staff members from camp (during an off day and have no tasks in camp) to join us for a game drive.

 

I think not only do they get a good insight of their surroundings, but, they also get to see what the guests come to their country for! i.e., most of all I think it's healthy for them to get away for a couple of hours instead of being stuck in camp for 60 days straight or whatever ........

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Posted (edited)

This is not peculiar to Africa, I used to work in Spain and there were resident rates in bars, restaurants and other places of entertainment, I am pretty sure it happens in Greece also and probably many other countries. As far as Africa goes if it encourages locals to see the reasons why we are all for conservation and through their visits they learn about the wonders they have around them it can only do good.

Edited by samburumags

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Yes I tend to have on my rose colored glasses on when I am in the bush - I see everything so much brighter with them; but would not have a problem asking a staff member if they 'd like to ride along; I'd enjoy their view/company immensely; yet realize they probably don't want mine!!

 

In the dozen or so camps I've experienced in S.Africa/Kenya/Botswana there were always a few that I would have loved to have ride in the rover with us. I did meet several couples taking advantage of lower rates enjoying a weekend safari at the lodges with us. (One memorable couple were celebrating 25 years together and having their first safari)

 

I would hope most lodges/camps take an interest as you have giving some insight to their all important staff, on what goes on out there in the bush those early mornings and late afternoons!

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Hi everyone, I find it also normal that there are some differences between the local residents and the other guests in terms of price. But If I may add a comment, each time I have met "local residents" travelling in lodges in Botswana, they were from South Africa (and most of them from the Cape Region) and did not seem to be "poor". Quite often, it was quite the opposite. Last time I was in Duba Plains, we met a lovely gentleman who was a real estate owner from South Africa. He was travelling with his own plane and did not seem so interested in the game drives whereas we were in DP. So not sure in that case that it s fair that they pay less than half of what we paid. So sometimes, I find it frustrating. I would find normal to pay more (20%, 30%, 40%, 50%,it 's difficult to put a figure) than a local resident but when I see an offer for a photographic safari in some camps (Botswana) and I am asked to pay 3 times more than a SADC resident, it makes me think about going to other places no matter how i love going on safari.

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Interesting that 'local' in Botswana means SA citizens.

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Interesting that 'local' in Botswana means SA citizens.

SADC discounts - the most common and widespread one in southern africa possibly. Or if not common and widespread, the most visible on social media.

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Right. Now I understand.

 

This is not the 'local' group I would think required reduced rates. I was thinking more of those in comminties, local to the country's wildlife areas, who have no knowledge/experience of the things that we come to see and hope that they will support and protect....................Much as has been suggested in previous posts in this topic by other members

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Right. Now I understand.

 

This is not the 'local' group I would think required reduced rates. I was thinking more of those in comminties, local to the country's wildlife areas, who have no knowledge/experience of the things that we come to see and hope that they will support and protect....................Much as has been suggested in previous posts in this topic by other members

 

Those true locals could never afford to pay the "local" rates as well.

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Possibly not............

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sorry for the misunderstanding, in my post I was referring to SADC residents rates as Paolo indicated. I think it was what Simon from Diverse Africa was referring to. Regarding the local communities I believe it s extremely important that they have the opportunity to experience and see what we are coming to see. What WS does with kids from local communities (Children in wilderness program if i remember) is really great. Each camp/lodge should do sthg similar but it is a different topic from the original one.

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Each camp/lodge should do sthg similar but it is a different topic from the original one.

 

Maybe we should still have this as part of the topic.

 

See at the end of it, anyone you meet in a camp that has paid significantly less than you, it would always bother a bit there and then - thats how all of us are about prices- whether its cars , houses, I know people who search the internet to see which country has the cheapest LV bags and then tries to get it from there avoiding shipping etc. But the point is at a more macro level citizens or groups of countries' citizens should always get some priority on local services. SADC would not be the first group of countries or Bots, SA the first countries where any such concession ends up being used by the wealthier. In India the government subsidizes things like cooking gas and grains etc and you should see how many people who can perfectly afford the non subsidized good, try to get these quotas and ration cards- by hook or crook.

 

The bigger issue for me is it is not enough to say the poor or the underprivileged does not have the initiation to go and visit these parks. If I had to struggle physically and emotionally to get the next meal for me and my family, I might not have similar priorities as someone who loves the bush and can afford to go there even if it is just self drive or big lodges and minivans. The issue is what are the camps, the industry and the governments and people like us doing to encourage participation and making participation easier for these people.

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Posted (edited)

sorry, i'm having problems from my ipad this morning - just wanted to say that's a business strategy by camps to fill up their camp any which way then can when things are slow........ I've seen some facebook advertising by digital safari photograph tours implying cheap Botswana holidays for SADC residents. I wonder if that's a great idea on facebook of all places when one tries to market to the entire world?

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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