Russian wealthy elite eye Zim safari sector

The Chronicle

RUSSIAN oligarchs – extremely wealthy business leaders controlling huge companies across the globe — are reportedly beginning to turn to high-end African safaris including in Zimbabwe, after being slapped with sanctions by western countries over Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine.

Oligarchs are wealthy elites, people who don’t just hold power and money, but who control enough resources to influence politics or governments in a meaningful way.

It is also heavily associated with the rich and powerful people in Russia, specifically those who made their fortunes in the post-Soviet era, including some who remain connected to the Kremlin, according to several online reports.

“We are seeing a trend of the sanctioned oligarchs looking at African safaris as an alternative destination where they can spend their money and Zimbabwe, having some classic safari destinations; we see that as a big opportunity,” Safari Operators of Association Zimbabwe (SOAZ) Dr Emmanuel Fundira said in an interview.

When Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine in February last year, several oligarchs were sanctioned in various ways by the western countries for allegedly aiding their leader, President Putin.

Dr Fundira said Zimbabwe will take advantage of the “already cordial relations (between Zimbabwe and Russia) and the “connections” to capture the Russian wealthy elites to come and stay in some of the best-rated safaris in the country.

“We are developing a concept, which, apart from the commercial activities, will also focus on how these wealthy people can be involved in philanthropic activities to improve the welfare of people in our disadvantage communities,” said Fundira.

Zimbabwe is hosting a delegation from Russia led by its Foreign Affairs and Economic Relations from the Sverdlovsk region of the Federation, Yarin Vyacheslav.

He is accompanied by Igor Zelenkin, the deputy minister of industry and trade in the Sverdlovsk region.

In addition, a business delegation will be in tow. During the visit, the team will explore business opportunities including touring industrial sites specialising in timber processing, the production of rubber and pharmaceuticals, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

In Zimbabwe, Safari operators often attract high-spending hunters, but over the past three years, business was severely hurt due to the coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Zimbabwe offers hunts for animals including, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard.

In addition to paying for the licence to track them down, tourists pay professional hunters to guide them. Elephants make up the bulk of the nation’s hunting licenses, according to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Export earnings from the hunting sector are projected to jump 200 percent in 2023, official statistic show, reflecting the recovery of tourism from the coronavirus.

Forex inflows are projected at US$9 million from US$3 million a year earlier, according to the SOAZ.

“The big jump reflects the relaxation of the Covid-19 restrictions and shows that the world has now settled,” Fundira said in an earlier interview.

The revenue does not include earnings from supporting industries such as airfares, restaurant freights, taxidermists, accommodation and other support services.

-Business Weekly

Article Source: The Chronicle

Enjoyed this post? Share it!