I’ve been fortunate to visit many of the luxurious Singita properties, including the spectacularly contemporary Lebombo, however, those in the Grumeti reserves are still high on my bucket list. We agree that luxury is about the privilege of having exclusive access to these pristine areas of land, rather than high thread counts.
With a new wave of more conscientious tourists, Singita is witnessing a noticeable shift away from expectations of finery as part of the package. “Our guests are high-net-worth individuals. There is nothing unique about luxury for them, but what is unique is the experience of Africa,” Witney says. “The raw beauty of the bushveld, the people, watching animals in their natural environment doing what they have done for millions of years. Today’s guest is very conscious of the impact their visit has on conservation and communities and they want to know that they are making a positive difference.”
Tourism counts for about 10% of gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa, which highlights its importance to both governments and private operators such as Singita. Without the beautiful environment and animals, there is no business. Conservation, however, comes at a huge financial cost, and the company has recognised the need to emphasise its message as it seeks donor- partner funding for the first time. “It is more relevant now than ever before,” Witney says. “We believe tourism has an important role to play in creating awareness of this conservation challenge.
“We believe the only way to truly make an impact is to do bold and audacious projects. This costs an inordinate amount of money, which until recently has been mostly funded by ourselves. To manage serious conservation and community initiatives across large areas of land — we now manage over 1-million acres — equates to many millions of dollars per year. For the first time, we are now seeking donor partner funding to help us achieve even more. Furthermore, we are being approached by donors who recognise us for our track record and expertise,” Witney says.
“There is a new type of philanthropist these days, who is greatly concerned about the future of the earth. Because of Singita’s core purpose to protect and preserve we are seen as the catalyst, and, therefore, coming together, with some very influential multibillionaire philanthropists and ourselves has been a natural shift,” he says.