Ethiopia Tourism Recovery

Ethiopia's tourism sector has faced significant challenges in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a civil war. Spending in the sector has dropped drastically. Although the country's tourist attractions and infrastructure are intact, concerns about ongoing conflict and safety issues have led to a lack of confidence from governments, travellers, and tour operators. To travel to Ethiopia, you will need an Ethiopian visa.

Ethiopia Tourism Recovery

The Conflict and Its Impact

The civil war in Ethiopia, which began prior to 2021, has wrought devastating consequences on the country's tourism sector. This conflict has unleashed widespread displacement, a tragic loss of life, and substantial damage to critical infrastructure. 

These dire circumstances have led to several negative effects:

  • Inaccessibility of Tourist Destinations

Many of Ethiopia's picturesque and historically significant tourist destinations have become inaccessible due to the conflict. The destruction of roads, airports, and other transportation links has hindered the ease of travel within the country.

  • Reluctance Among Tourists

The turmoil and instability resulting from the war have caused prospective tourists to be hesitant about visiting Ethiopia. Concerns about safety and the unpredictable nature of the conflict have discouraged travel plans.

  • Deterioration of Reputation

Ethiopia's reputation as a safe and welcoming destination has suffered due to the war. Numerous countries have issued travel advisories cautioning their citizens against visiting Ethiopia, further deterring potential tourists.

Impact on Local Communities

The downturn in tourism has had a devastating impact on local communities in Ethiopia. Many people who rely on tourism for their livelihoods have lost their jobs. This has led to increased poverty and hardship.

  • Reduced Income

The decline in tourism has also led to a decrease in income for local businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. This has made it difficult for these businesses to operate and has led to further job losses.

  • Increased Crime

The economic hardship caused by the decline in tourism has also led to an increase in crime in some areas. This has made it less safe for both tourists and local residents.

  • Social and Cultural Impacts

The decline in tourism has also had a number of social and cultural impacts. For example, many local communities have lost a sense of pride and identity, as they are no longer able to share their culture and traditions with visitors.

Efforts for Peace

The signing of a peace deal in November 2022 offers hope for the revival of Ethiopia's tourism industry. Nonetheless, it remains too early to predict when the sector will fully recover. 

The future of tourism in Ethiopia hinges on several factors, including:

  • Global economic conditions: The global economy is facing a number of headwinds, including high inflation, rising interest rates, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. These factors could dampen the demand for international travel, including to Ethiopia.
  • Marketing and promotion: Ethiopia's tourism sector needs to invest in marketing and promotion to raise awareness of the country's unique attractions and to reassure potential visitors about safety.
  • Infrastructure development: Ethiopia needs to continue to invest in infrastructure development, such as roads, airports, and hotels, to improve the tourist experience.
  • Sustainability: Ethiopia should promote sustainable tourism practices that protect the environment and benefit local communities.

Additional Points

  • Development of new tourism products and experiences: Ethiopia can develop new tourism products and experiences, such as hiking trails, bike tours, and culinary tours, to attract a wider range of visitors.
  • Public-private partnerships: Ethiopia can work with the private sector to develop and promote the tourism industry. For example, the government can provide incentives to private companies to invest in new hotels and resorts.
  • Capacity building: Ethiopia can invest in training and development programs for tourism workers to ensure that they are able to provide high-quality services to visitors.

Response to Ethiopia's Tourism Sector: Resilience and Hope

Ethiopia's tourism sector has faced significant challenges in recent years, due to the civil war and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are signs of resilience and hope for the future.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Ethiopia's tourism sector is the resilience of its iconic tourist sites. Despite the turmoil of the civil war, several of Ethiopia's most popular tourist destinations, such as Lalibela, have managed to escape significant damage. 

Hope for the Future

Despite the challenges, there is optimism within the tourism industry for the sector's revival in the latter half of 2023. This optimism is contingent on a number of factors, including:

  • The successful resolution of ongoing conflicts.
  • The lifting of travel advisories by Western governments.
  • The gradual return of group tourism.

Some additional thoughts on Ethiopia's tourism sector:

  • The government can play a role in supporting the tourism sector by investing in infrastructure, such as roads and airports, and by providing tax breaks and other incentives to tour operators and hotels.
  • The tourism industry can also help to promote Ethiopia as a safe and attractive tourist destination by developing new tourism products and experiences, and by working to improve the visitor experience.
  • By working together, the government and the tourism industry can help to ensure that Ethiopia's tourism sector recovers and thrives in the years to come.


What impact did the civil war have on Ethiopia's tourism industry? 

The civil war in Ethiopia had a devastating impact on the country's tourism industry, leading to widespread displacement, damage to infrastructure, loss of life, and a decline in tourist visits.

How did the war affect Ethiopia's reputation as a tourist destination? 

The war damaged Ethiopia's reputation as a safe and welcoming destination, with many countries issuing travel advisories cautioning against visiting the country, further discouraging tourism.

Is there hope for Ethiopia's tourism industry after the peace deal? 

Yes, the peace deal signed in November 2022 offers hope for the future of Ethiopia's tourism industry. However, the full recovery of the sector depends on the successful implementation of the peace deal and the return of stability.

How did the decline in tourism impact local communities in Ethiopia? 

The decline in tourism led to job losses in various tourism-related sectors, causing increased poverty and economic hardship for many local communities that rely on tourism for their livelihoods.

Which tourist sites in Ethiopia remained resilient during the conflict? 

Remarkably, sites like Lalibela, known for its ancient rock-hewn churches, were spared significant damage during the conflict and continue to attract visitors.

What challenges does the tourism sector face in its recovery? 

Challenges include the absence of group tours, continued travel warnings from Western governments, and the need for resolution of ongoing conflicts to ensure safety and accessibility to tourist attractions.

Are there any signs of hope for the recovery of Ethiopia's tourism industry? 

Some tour operators, like Intrepid Travel, are cautiously optimistic about the sector's revival in the latter half of the year and are closely monitoring the progress of the peace deal and travel advisories.

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