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St. George’s Church, Lalibela. Ethiopiais proud of many unique attractions, including UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. More than one million tourists visited the country last year / © Jon Bratt

Ethiopia rebrands despite drought fears

The Ethiopian government is promoting the country as a favourite tourism destination despite fears of famine due to an ongoing drought. Ethiopia’s Tourism Minister Aisha Mohammed Mussa proudly presented the country’s new tourism slogan: ‘Ethiopia – Land of Origins’ at the International Tourism Bourse recently, in a new campaign to rebrand the country. 

The country is proud of many unique attractions, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites, its fascinating natural landscapes and rich flora and fauna, she said at that occasion. 

Unfortunately this new brand launch comes at a bad time. The country’s worst drought in 50 years have rekindled fears of the terrible images of 30 years ago, when due to drought and war Ethiopia was ravaged by famine, costing hundreds of thousands of lives. The minister stressed that the same would not happen this time. 

The drought is caused by El Niño, which last year had a stronger impact than ever. Despite this, there would be no famine, she assured. The Ethiopian government was well-prepared for poor harvests, and there were precautionary mechanisms in place. The government had set up social aid programmes which could be expanded in the event of a crisis. “We will end the drought and not let it cause a famine“, said the tourism minister.

In Ethiopia, one of the world’s fastest-growing countries, tourism is expanding by 20 per cent per year. Tourism in 2014 generated 2.8 billion dollars. Over the last ten years visitor numbers have increased by 12 per cent, to 800,000 in 2014, and in 2015 reached the targeted one million mark. 

Minister Mohammed Mussa reiterated that, “Our vision is to transform Ethiopia into one of Africa’s leading travel destinations by 2025.”

Toro Abalu-Diehl

 

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