By Tim Harkins
Ethiopia is the world’s best tourist destination, as selected by the European Council on Tourism and Trade recently.
Around 200 representatives from the European tourism industry across 28 countries gathered at the launch of a report highlighting the council’s reasons for choosing the north-east African country as “the perfect cultural destination”.
These include its “excellent” preservation of humanity landmarks, its ongoing development and protection of cultural, religious and historical shrines, and being a centre for safari and adventure tourism.
Ethiopia is home to many landmarks including the ruins of the city of Aksum, the heart of ancient Ethiopia; Fasil Ghebbi, the residence of Ethiopian emperors during the 16th and 17th centuries; and Harar Jugol, which has 82 mosques and 102 shrines.
According to the World Bank, tourism made up an estimated 4.5 per cent of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product last year, creating nearly one million jobs and $2bn (€1.83bn).
European Council on Tourism and Trade president Anton Caragea also announced that Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has been designated as a “world leader” of tourism and as a member of the European Tourism Academy.
Caragea commended Prime Minister Desalegn for “recognising the importance of tourism as a key facilitator for the country development and international promotion.”
In a letter addressing the gathering, the prime minister said his aims “are to build on Ethiopia’s natural, historical and cultural resources to strengthen the tourism sector.
“Together, we will work hand in hand to make tourism one of the leading economic sectors of our country and Ethiopia a top destination in Africa.”
Ethiopian Ambassador to Ireland Lela-alem Gebreyohannes also added her congratulations to her homeland for what she described as an “outstanding victory on behalf of Africa.”
The ambassador added that she celebrates the “wonderful news that African role in the world is recognised once more.”