Ethiopian Press Agency (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: Counting the Intangibles in Tourism

editorial

Photo: Tourism Ethiopia
Tourist attraction: The National Palace in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.

The Amhara Culture, Tourism and Parks Development Bureau has just announced that the flow of tourists who come to visit the states's rich attractions had increased by 48 per cent in the last budget year as compared to that before it.

According to the Bureau, this gain represents a great boost in the sector, and is an encouraging accomplishment that would inspire everyone for stronger initiatives in the current budget year as well as in the next ones.

The Amhara State enjoys a unique position in Ethiopia that the majority of the natural and manmade tourist attractions are found there, making it one of the most sought after destinations in the country. The Fasiladas Castle in the town of Gondar, the Semien Mountains, and the Lalibela rock-hewn churches are only a few of the numberless sites in which the history of the country as well as the state is embedded for ever. Visitors watch and marvel about the beauty, magnanimity and diversity of the fauna, the flora and the sheer landscape that adorn the Semien Mountains, also one of the highest points in the African continent. The Lalibela churches, hewn directly out of giant solid rocks, stand with their age-old grandeur, telling endless stories of, for instance, the engineering prowess which Ethiopians of the time had acquired. These and other valuable heritages have contributed other social and cultural benefits to the nation, not to mention the financial gains brought in the form of revenue.

Nevertheless, the Bureau in particular and the State Administration in general will have a lot to do in connection with filling the gaps that not only might potentially hamper future growth in the sector. It might also be credited with helping in the continuation of a trend that has to be broken: wasting a mighty resource potential. Harnessing this potential itself parallels without exaggeration the harnessing of our great rivers as boosters of the development process. The needed activities include the expansion and upgrading of roads, electrification, and communication facilities where these exist--but are at their rudimentary level--and the establishment of new ones where they do not. Tourism is unthinkable without proper hotel and other facilities, and in the absence of trained manpower. This budget year must make a difference not just in the growing number of tourists but in their over satisfaction, as well.

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