Sunday, May 04, 2014

Ethiopia's big plans to boost tourist numbers

(May 04, 2014, (BBC))--Perched at 3,260m (10,696 ft) above sea level, the Simien Lodge is the highest hotel in Africa. It was built in 2007 by a British entrepreneur who had an eye for a dramatic view and was not put off by the challenge of building in Ethiopia's rugged and isolated Simien Mountains.

The man in question, Nick Crane, first came to Ethiopia to help during its 1974 drought. Now the 62-year-old is at the forefront of promoting a positive side to this unique and still misunderstood country. When not in Ethiopia, Mr Crane spends much of his time visiting travel companies across Europe to highlight the nation's scenery and wildlife, and rich cultural and historic sites. "Previously some tour operators would not touch Ethiopia with a barge pole," he says. "But now that is changing."

Untapped potential
Ethiopia's tourism industry has long lagged behind other African nations. Recent comparable data showed that Africa's most popular destinations - Morocco and South Africa - got 9.3 million and 8.3 million overseas visitors respectively in 2011.

Ethiopia by contrast received just 523,000, putting it in 17th place across the continent. But visitor numbers to Ethiopia are now growing by 10% each year, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It adds the income the country's tourism sector receives is growing by 20% per annum, as the tourists who do visit are spending more. Read more from BBC »

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