In the midst of challenges faced by the tourism industry in the country, Ethiopia attracted 800,000 visitors last year, earning the country much-needed foreign exchange to the tune of USD 5.6 billion, a report revealed. This showed a decline compared to the 2015 when the country hosted 900,000 tourists, the report indicated.
Jumia Travel, an online hotel-booking site, released its annual tourism report on Ethiopia at the Golden Tulip Hotel on Thursday, February 16th. The report highlighted challenges and achievements of the tourism industry in Ethiopia.
“Even though the challenges are many, prospects for the future are inspiring, and we look forward to bringing the intended growth and progress into a reality”, the CEO of Jumia Travel, Paul Midy said.
With ten UNESCO-designated sites, the experts say that the performance was meager when compared to previous year. The report also noted that, civil unrest has limited travel to parts of the country.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has an ambitious goal of attracting one million visitors in 2017. “Expansion of the tourism industry has led to a reduction of Ethiopia’s dependence on agriculture,” Alexander Burtenshaw, the country manager of Jumia Travel Ethiopia, said. “Until recently, little had been invested in mapping the country’s tourism, but the last decade has seen intensified interest from investors”.
According to the report, while only two brand hotels – Ramada Addis and Marriott Executive Apartments – opened last year, investors’ licenses have been granted and international standard hotels such as AU Grand Hotel, Crowne Plaza and Best Western are expected to join the mix in a few years.
Most of the tourists Ethiopia attracts are from Africa, followed by Europe and North America. Tourism accounts for 4.1 percent of Ethiopia’s GDP and is expected to increase to five percent of the GDP by 2026 – the year, Ethiopia hopes to become a middle-income country.