Despite a cultural, historical and linguistic identity quite distinct from the rest of Africa, Ethiopia never became a major tourist destination on the continent. But Ethiopia didn’t appear that bothered or did much to help itself in promoting its treasure chest of tourism gems. Where other countries would proclaim their natural heritage, beckoning tourists to come, Ethiopia chose modesty and hidden beauty.
The 2013 formation of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO), however, signalled a break with this trend and the Ethiopian government decided to take tourism seriously as a means of generating huge revenue for the nation and eradicating poverty. The ETO was given a mandate to “boost tourism destination development and marketing, and enhance the benefits of tourism in a sustainable and competitive manner.” Then in August this year, the Ethiopian Culture and Tourism Ministry made a bold announcement of a target to triple foreign visitors to more than 2.5 million by 2020. The ultimate goal: Ethiopia featuring in Africa’s Top 5 tourist destinations by 2020.
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Image: Therein probably lies Ethiopian tourism’s greatest strength—there are still so many diverse cultures, landscapes and wildlife to be developed for tourist itineraries.