15 April 2013

Ethiopia Targets 250,000 Indian Tourists

Ethiopia is setting up a special tourism office in India to try and woo some of the 13 million Indians who annually travel abroad, to visit Africa's second most populous nation.

The slogan for the campaign is 'Come, visit Ethiopia'.

State-owned Ethiopian Airlines has already got things off the ground by hosting a group of tour and travel operators from India on a week-long familiarisation tour to some of the country's popular destinations.

Ethiopia boasts of 20 National Parks, four wildlife sanctuaries, eight wildlife reserves and 18 controlled hunting areas.

Nine of its historical places are designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites.

These include, Fasil Ghebbi, the Axum Obelisk, the Lower Valley of Omo, the Harar Jugol Wall, Konso Cultural Landscape, the Lower Valley of Awash, Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, the Tiya carved stones and Simien National Park.

This year the government wants to see a sharp increase in tourist arrivals. Feelers have ben made out to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Tekeba H. Sellasie, the airline's Regional Director for the Indian subcontinent, said: "We have all forms of tourism in Ethiopia, be it historical, wildlife, religious and anthropological. We need to promote it as a package."

"India is a good source market for tourism nowadays. More than 13 million people travel out of India every year. We also expect to have a good share of this market, even one or two per cent of this is significant for us," Genet Teshome, the Consulate General of Ethiopia in Mumbai said.

The Ethiopian government opened a cultural centre in its embassy in New Delhi and plans to set up several tourism promotional centres in major Indian cities.

"By next year we plan to establish our tourism boards in New Delhi and Mumbai. India is going to be a crucial factor in development of Ethiopia as a world-class tourism destination," Getenet Yigzaw , an expert at the Cultural and Tourism Ministry said.

Just over 500,000 tourists visited Ethiopia in 2012, number the government wants to see doubled.

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