A lonely road for African tourism as Lonely Planet downscales its operations

a lonely road for african tourism as lonely planet downscales its operations

Tourism in South Africa and the rest of the continent may be about to suffer yet another blow. Lonely Planet, the legendary producer of travel guides and practical information for a generation of travellers, has announced that it is scaling back its operations.

This comes as global travel grinds to a halt and demand for guide books and other travel paraphernalia plummets to near-zero. As a result, the company announced this week its operations in London and Melbourne, Australia will cease almost entirely.

Lonely Planet was founded in Melbourne in 1972. Apart from its travel guides it also offers travel-related books, a magazine, a travel booking service, phrase books, foreign-language guides, e-books and gifts.

A long-time friend of travel to the African continent

Lonely Planet has been a long-time friend of the continent and its many tourism destinations and has been producing African travel guides since the 1970s.

Last year it ranked Zimbabwe as third on its list of top 10 countries to visit. In 2017 it ranked Cape Town as the second best city in the world.

Over the years African destinations such as Table Mountain, Robben Island, the Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, Etosha National Park, Kolmanskop ghost town, the Skeleton Coast, Lake Malawi, the Okavango Delta, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Masai Mara have all featured prominently and been recommended by Lonely Planet’s teams of editors, writers and researchers.

The company has published guide books for the likes of Cape Town, the Garden Route, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia. Mauritius, Kenya, Madagascar and others.

Some Lonely Planet operations continue, but there are fears

According to the company it will continue to publish its guidebooks and phrasebooks, but most other operations will cease. However, it insists that it will weather the current storm in continue to operate. Lonely Planet has already survived travel-industry catastrophes such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which devastated large parts of Asia.

But not everyone is so sure.

“Does the travel bible’s adventure end here?” asked the London-based Telegraph newspaper.

Travel writer Abigail Blasi pointed out that the company accounts for over 30% of the global guide book market.

“For many, the rows of blue-spined books on their shelves form part of their travel DNA,” she said.

Another prominent UK newspaper, the Guardian, said the closures “point to an uncertain future” and asked “where now for travel”?

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Travel and tour information summary from The South African Travel News.
Author: Mike Simpson

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