Sharon Gilbert-Rivett, South Africa
Sustainable tourism and safari consultant Sharon Gilbert-Rivett was born in Cambridge in England, where she was raised, and educated. She fell in love with Africa and its wild places at an early age, thanks to her family hauling her to live in Kenya, South Africa and what is now Zimbabwe before the age of 10.
Sharon has been a journalist for more than 35 years, working on major newspapers both in the UK and in South Africa, where she has lived since 1991. She is the former travel editor of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian and a noted contributor to a range of lauded South African publications including Africa Geographic, Sawubona and the Sunday Times.
In 2006 she moved into broadcasting with the launch of media company Painted Earth Productions, writing, producing and directing natural history documentaries for international television. She has most recently written and produced a TV series called “The Good Trip” on sustainable tourism destinations in southern Africa airing on continent-wide satellite broadcaster DStv.
Sharon has worked in the African tourism industry for the past 20 years, both as a tour operator, consultant, relief safari camp manager and a commentator, and is a former chair of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association’s Gauteng chapter, which saw her serve on the association’s Exco. She is also the founding editor of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa’s Tourism Business Africa magazine.
For the last 15 years she has specialised in sustainable tourism and the safari industry, focussing on the role tourism plays in conservation and vice versa. From 2015 to 2017 she was the marketing manager for Fair Trade Tourism, an organisation she has worked alongside since its inception and one she still consults for.
Throughout the last two decades, Sharon has written widely on the challenges and issues facing conservation and the critical role sustainable tourism plays, specifically in the safari sector, in helping to ensure the wellbeing of Africa’s last remaining wilderness areas and the communities that live in and around them.
She currently works with The Safari Collective, a grouping of safari experts that helps safari businesses to move to more effective, sustainable business models and contribute to sustainable development goals, particularly where local communities and environmental management are concerned.
Sharon has travelled widely throughout sub-Saharan Africa and has been privileged to visit some of its most iconic tourism destinations, from Kenya’s Maasai Mara, Tanzania’s Serengeti and the rich marine ecosystems of the Seychelles to Tchad’s Zakouma National Park, Ethiopia’s ancient monasteries and the primary forests of Madagascar.