Ethiopia: A top tourist destination by 2020

Addis Ababa (HAN) November 9, 2014. Public Diplomacy and Regional  Tourism Security and safety news. According to Expert Analysis, Dr. Ray Muntida, advisor to the IGAD Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (ISTMP) says that Ethiopia will be one of the top five tourist destination countries in Africa if it properly implements its Sustainable Tourism Master Plan by 2020.

The BBC’s Michael Buerk described the scene there 30 years ago as “a biblical famine in the 20th century” and “the closest thing to hell on Earth”. It drove Bob Geldof into a rage and was responsible for Live Aid 1985. This morning, at the Damayno School in Ethiopia’s Tigray province, President Michael D Higgins marvelled at the change.

“It is wonderful to see how the whole landscape has been transformed by clever watershed management,” he said. “It is difficult to imagine today that what we see now was once so barren that the local community wanted to leave.”


The IGAD Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (ISTMP,  said he expected Ethiopia to achieve its targets before the deadline because of its stability, fast economic growth and the interlink between the master plan and the Growth and Transformation Plan. He emphasized that Ethiopia needed to continue infrastructure development and also keep up the strong commitment of both the government and the private sector to realize its goal.

Ethiopia’s Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (STMP), being formulated by the partnership of different stakeholders, is part of the on-going process in the implementation of the IGAD Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. It is being developed with technical support provided by the sub-regional office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA) and the division for Regional Integration and trade (RITD) of United Nations in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. IGAD’s Sustainable Tourism Master Plan is based on a regional tourism study done in 2010 and it was given the green light at a meeting in Djibouti in 2011. The IGAD plan is focused on the theme Towards a Sustainable Tourism Industry in Eastern Africa and it was officially launched at the IGAD Tourism Inter-Ministerial forum in Nairobi in December last year.

Ethiopia’s STMP followed the Prime Minister’s decision to prioritize the tourist industry, setting up a National Tourism Transformation Council, to be chaired by Prime Minister Hailemariam , and the Ethiopian Tourism Organization to spearhead tourism product development and marketing. The industry was identified as a key sector in the Growth and Transformation Plan, and it is similarly defined in the 2nd Plan now being drawn up. The process of formulating the STMP entailed extensive field missions, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders drawn from various sectors including public, private, professional organizations, civil society, regional government officials and academia. Regional consultative meetings were also held in Mekele and Dire Dawa.

Ethiopia had just over half a million tourists last year (compared to Egypt’s 9 million) but the industry still contributed 12.3% of GDP. Tourism is, of course, a leading foreign exchange earner and a key sector for both domestic and foreign investment as well as being one of the leading employers, generating over 2.4 million jobs directly and indirectly.


Photo: Omo River Region – Africa’s popular tourist destinations


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