Luxury and sustainability can sometimes seem like an incompatible pairing, which is why We Are Africa and our sister show PURE Life Experiences are dedicated to sharing our communities’ expert knowledge on the subject. We believe that the insights gained by our members from years of determination and experience have the power to transform the high-end travel industry for the better. Consequently, at PURE’s first seminar series in November, MATTER, community leaders took to the stage to inspire meaningful change in the arena of sustainability.

The We Are Africa tribe was represented by two individuals who have made conservation the cornerstone of their businesses: Stefano Cheli, Managing Director of Cheli & Peacock, and Keith Vincent, CEO of Wilderness Safaris. As we begin revealing details of this year’s Conservation Lab and Conference, we thought we’d start the conversation on conservation for 2015 by recapping some of the highlights of what they had to say…


Parks Beyond Parks: Tourism And Conservation In Kenya
Stefano Cheli – Managing Director, Cheli & Peacock


With an incredible diversity of eco-systems, wildlife species and communities, Kenya is home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge conservation initiatives. The majority of Kenya’s wildlife lives outside of National Parks and Reserves on surrounding community land. Population growth, climate change, development and cultivation are all contributing to the increasing challenge of protecting some of Kenya’s last wilderness areas and key wildlife species. Since the 1980s, Stefano Cheli has had a major hand in the development of Parks Beyond Parks – the creation of wildlife conservation areas outside of national protection – and today over 2.7 million hectares of land are protected by private sector and community conservancies.

Stefano’s insights:

  • “We seem to be in an era of instant gratification when every client wants to tick off a wildlife list in 4 days. Africa has so much more to offer.”
  • “Parks as islands cannot survive – you become like a cattle rancher rather than a wildlife manager. Sixty percent of Kenya’s wildlife lives outside government protected areas.”
  • “Donor-dependent conservation is not sustainable. We went to each Maasai landlord and convinced them to let to a holding company – we now have 780 landlords! They can use this money to get loans, secure school fees and rear cattle”.
  • “By bringing tourism to areas outside government control, you are empowering communities to earn from the tourism product. Employment and revenue from the tourism product is also a good incentive against poaching.”
  • “If you are a true lover of conservation, it’s not just about wildlife – by embracing the situation holistically, you will help everything”.


Overcoming The Barriers To Sustainable Luxury
Panel featuring Keith Vincent – CEO, Wilderness Safaris


As part of a panel of travel experts, Keith Vincent discussed the definition of sustainable luxury in today’s world and the barriers to running a truly sustainable hotel or tour operation. Talking points included: how to educate consumers about sustainability; integrating and benefitting the local community; how to prevent sustainable luxury becoming elitist; and the role of the media in telling sustainability success stories.

Keith’s insights:

  • “You’ll seldom hear us refer to ourselves as a luxury operator. The luxury of space and wildlife is connected with the community protecting their culture – and our culture as a business.”
  • “I am passionate about conserving Africa’s wilderness areas and deeply committed to the 4Cs ethos (Conservation, Community, Commerce and Culture). We operate on community, conservation and commerce – without money, the luxury of these spaces will disappear”
  • “I am an African and I hope my grandchildren get to see what I have. Luxury tourism is a pathway to this.”
  • “The keys to sustainability are also good business decisions – they add value for the future.”

John Segar

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