Ethiopia: Efforts for Augmenting Tourism Potential

Today, tourism is vigorously growing and contributing a lot to the global economic sector. The influences of tourism go far beyond economy and touch the socio-political and cultural life of people across the globe. Ethiopia is one of the few countries highly endowed with natural and historical tourism resources. However, large parts of Ethiopia’s tourism resources are remained unexploited due to different reasons.

Tourism has brought huge economic potential for countries which have viable tourist destinations and wish to develop their tourism industry. Employment, currency exchange, imports and taxes are just a few of the ways that tourism can bring currency into a destination.

In recent years, tourist inflow has increased globally at exponential rates. There are a number of reasons for this growth including improvements in technology, increases in income, the growth of budget, airlines and consumer desires to travel further to new destinations and so on.

Ethiopia is one of the countries that have enormous and diverse tourist attractions. It has beautiful land features ranging from the highest mountain, Ras Dashen, to Dankal depression, one of the lowest points in the world, consisting of different attractive rivers having water falls, lakes including the Rift valley lakes, and the various caves like Sof Umar. These wide land features gave birth to the different ecological zones that are a home to a wide variety of wildlife comprising both fauna and flora.

Apart from the natural resources, Ethiopia is also endowed with magnificent historical tourist attractions and some of them are registered as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The most famous historical tourist sites in Ethiopia designated as “World Heritage Sites” including the walled city of Harar, the Castle of Gondar, the Rock Hewn Church of Lalibela, the Obelisk of Aksum etc.

Lecturer of Economics at Addis Ababa University, Dr. Atlaw Alemu told The Ethiopian Herald that tourism has a multi-dimensional benefit. Unemployment is a big issue in today’s world and tourism plays irreplaceable role in reducing unemployment rates, improving standards of living of the society living at the vicinity of the destinations as well as increasing the means to generate income for those residing in and outside the area.

Increased economic activities in resort-oriented towns can also have positive effects on the country’s overall economic growth and development. Building and developing a tourism industry, however, involves a lot of initial and ongoing expenditure.

Facilitating infrastructures like roads to connect the capital with the tourist attraction sites, expanding connectivity both in technology and other relevant aspects, building lodges near the tourist sites and the like are of significantly useful in making a difference in all aspects peculiarly regarding the tourism sector. All these activities need financial outlay, indeed.

In order to further beef up the sector and get the prime actors benefited out of it, the active involvement of the private sector is quite decisive.

Doing so requires the synergy of all as the sole effort of the government could hardly help the nation bring about the desired change.

Undeniably, ensuring peace and security has to be given priority as serenely running every activity will be unthinkable without ensuring it. There are a number of independent, franchised or multinational investors who have been playing an important role in the industry as they possess all what are required to buttress success of the tourism industry.

Culture expert Kaleab Belachew on his part said that recently in Ethiopia tourism is being considered as one of the economic sectors with huge potential following the reform, of course. People in rural areas can easily be skilled, in line with the reform.

Ethiopia is well regarded as the most important tourism destination in the world though the sector is still at its infant stage. One of the main reasons for the underdevelopment of tourism is lack of attention given to the sector over the past two decades or so.

Now the government is expanding and building tourist sites across different regions of the country. Since only building sites is not enough, displaying the potential areas of the country for local, regional and international market is equally or even more important.

Truly, tourism sector has been emerged as part of the new development strategies for Ethiopia and other developing countries. Ethiopia’s intent of focusing on peripheral areas, which are found outside cities and towns as well as its determination to well develop them, will lucratively pay off.