Most wildlife reserves had seen a significant decline in the numbers of visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this might not necessarily be a good thing. Places like the Amazon River, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, are now struggling and asking the governments for economic support.
For instance, the Serere Eco-Reserve in the Bolivian part of the Amazon Rainforest is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. According to the reserve manager, Rosa María Ruiz, the maintenance is possible thanks to the support of foreign eco-tourists who pay around $100 a day for all-inclusive overnight stays close to nature.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Serere incomes stopped and Ruiz had to cut staff from 40 to 7 keepers. “We can’t keep going at the rate we are now without further support”, she stated to the press summarizing the situation in the wildlife tourism sector.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), in 2019 the direct value of wildlife tourism was at $120 billion. It generates 21.8 million global jobs and is particularly vital in Africa (where it makes up 36.3% of the travel and tourism sector), Latin America (up to 8.6%) and Asia (5.8%). Some of the New 7 Wonders of Nature can be found at these continents, such as Table Mountain, in South Africa; Iguazú Falls in Brazil and Argentina; as well as Halong Bay, in Vietnam and Komodo Island, in Indonesia.
The presence of tourists is a solid income for fund rangers, veterinary programs and animal rescue centers. It also provides a vital source of revenue for local communities.