RESPONSIBLE HUNTING TOURISM

Barry York

As the largest association of professional hunters in the world, PHASA takes pride in the ongoing positive contribution by our members to wildlife management, conservation and hunting tourism industries in South Africa.
PHASA fully supports responsible, ethical hunting as one of the most important tools for sustainable wildlife management and understands the importance of hunting to our biodiversity and rural economies.
PHASA continues to engage with government on issues related to professional hunting and is an active participant of the National Tourism Stakeholders Forum and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA). However, it is unfortunate that we have not earned the confidence and full support from the department of tourism. We believe it is a lack of understanding of the important role that PHASA plays in promoting South Africa as the world leader in responsible hunting tourism, wildlife management and conservation.
In a recent development, it transpired that the directorgeneral of tourism, Mr Victor Tharage, regards the hunting sector as a risk to our country’s reputation and damaging to Brand South Africa. Responsible tourism focuses on the positive economic, social, cultural and environmental impact, which is an important pillar of South Africa’s national tourism policy. The South African Standards for Responsible Tourism specifies that responsible tourism should be measured according to:
– social and cultural issues
– economic benefit
– environmental impact

These standards are aligned to various international definitions of sustainability, i.e. United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Hunting is a very important aspect of Africa’s rich cultural heritage. It is our traditional and constitutional right to hunt responsibly and to sustainably use the renewable natural resources for the socio-economic and environmental benefit of our people.
Hunting tourists respect and embrace the rights, traditions and cultures of our host rural communities. Those who disagree with our hunting traditions, culture and heritage, have no right to impose their foreign ideologies on Africa’s rural hunting communities.
Hunters spend a large percentage of their foreign currency in remote rural areas and create a valuable income stream and employment opportunities for the poorest rural communities that do not benefit from mass tourism.

Economic benefit

Research conducted in South Africa by the Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society unit of North-West University has shown that hunting contributes immensely to economic and infrastructure development in rural areas.
Trophy hunters spend between 10 and 20 times more than regular tourists. A large percentage of this foreign currency (70 to 80 per cent) stimulates investment, economic growth, job creation and development where it is needed most. International hunters also visit other popular tourism destinations such as the Kruger National Park and Cape Town as part of their visit to South Africa.

Environmental impact

Hunters have the smallest carbon footprint of all tourists, with animal welfare concerns high on our list of priorities. We legally hunt selected individuals to protect, grow or maintain the population of those animals in harmony with their environment. A consequence of responsible hunting is that species such as tsessebe, roan antelope, sable antelope, bontebok and rhino have been saved from extinction in South Africa.
Most of the negative perceptions and associated reputation risk concerning hunting are perpetuated by animal activist organisations that profiteer from creating emotional propaganda over responsible hunting and other wildlife utilisation issues.
PHASA is answerable to its membership and not to antihunting organisations that are in conflict with our constitutional and traditional rights to sustainable and responsible use of wildlife resources. Activist organisations whose activities do not benefit local communities have no right to impose their ideologies on others and should not influence government policies.
 
Conclusion

We congratulate the political leadership of most SADC countries for acknowledging the rights of rural people to sustainably utilise their renewable natural resources, including wildlife.
There is absolutely no conflict of interest between PHASA, TBCSA, the department of tourism and Brand South Africa. PHASA endorses the national tourism sector strategy and anticipates full recognition as an important role player and strategic partner of the South African tourism economy.

Back to articles