|Survival's petition has so far gathered more than 15,000 signatures. |
Visitors to the World Travel Market will today be greeted by protestors from Survival, calling for a boycott of Botswana tourism.
Survival launched its boycott in September over the Botswana government’s continued persecution of the Kalahari Bushmen. Despite winning a high profile legal battle that recognized their right to live on their ancestral lands, the Bushmen have been banned from accessing water or hunting for food.
The World Travel Market, which opens at London’s Excel Centre today, features a stand by the government-owned Botswana Tourism Organization, eager to encourage tourists to Botswana. It shares a stand with Wilderness Safaris; a controversial travel company which erected a luxury tourist lodge on Bushman land without their consent.
The Botswana government has banned the Bushmen from accessing a well which they rely on for water. Without it, they are forced to make arduous journeys to fetch water. At the same time, the government has drilled new wells for wildlife only, and allowed Wilderness Safaris to open a bar and swimming pool for tourists at its lodge.
Survival recently launched an online petition calling on Wilderness Safaris to move its lodge off Bushman land. The number of signatures currently stands at over 15,000.
The president of Botswana’s nephew, Marcus ter Haar, and his personal lawyer, Parks Tafa, sit on the board of Wilderness Safaris.
High profile Survival supporters including Gillian Anderson, Quentin Blake, Joanna Lumley, Sophie Okonedo and Mark Rylance, have all pledged not to travel to Botswana until the Bushmen are allowed to live on their lands in peace.
Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘Wilderness Safaris needs to put ethics before profit. Like it or not, it has an obligation to stand by the UN’s minimum standards for tribal peoples and not be complicit in the Botswana government’s theft of Bushman land for tourism and mining profit. It doesn’t deny either that its lodge is on Bushman territory or that it didn’t bother to ask them first. Guests at its lodge are unfortunately contributing to the destruction of the Bushmen. If the industry really thinks this is ‘ethical tourism’, then the phrase is meaningless.’