South Sudan’s fledgling tourism and hospitality sector has taken a severe beating since the outbreak of factional violence across Africa’s youngest country as several email exchanges with stakeholders brought more facts to light.
While hotels in Juba have remained largely untouched and continue to enjoy some respectable occupancies, those in the hard fought over towns like Malakal and in particular Bor, but also other towns, were faced with part of complete looting by combatants and several were in part of full destroyed, leaving their owners to wonder what misfortunes has befallen them as no insurance will cover these losses.
Also hit were the few safari operators which had put up semi-permanent facilities in or near the national parks or game reserves across South Sudan, which together with camp vehicles, trucks, communication equipment and other items like water pumps and generators were also subjected to extensive looting during the hot phase of the conflict.
Safaris to Boma National Park and the Sudd, to Bandingilo and Southern National Park, have all been cancelled due to the unpredictable nature of the conflict denying intrepid travelers the opportunity to see one of the world’s great migrations, which moves annually from Boma and the Sudd to Bandingilo where as many as 2 million animals congregate before returning to their home grazing grounds.
Market leader Bahr el Jebel Safaris (www.bahr-el-jebel-safaris.com) on their website has outlined details of this migration, being, in the absence of a national tourism office for South Sudan, one of the foremost sources of information on the parks and available expeditions and safaris. This company, according to the owners who are based in Mexico and also run a safari operation in Northern Uganda, largely centered on the stretch of the River Nile between Pakwach and Nimule, is now looking at November/December 2014 at the earliest at resuming operations, unless of course a full peace accord will be struck which will see the opponents of the regime in Juba fully re-integrated into national affairs and government, a prospect unlikely as the situation stands right now.
Flights to and from Juba have in the meantime all resumed a full schedule and overland bus transport, in particular from Uganda via the border town of Nimule, are also back to near full operations.