Ethiopian Tourism Overview

Ethiopian tourism offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With historic wonders like Lalibela's rock-hewn churches and Axum's ancient obelisks, alongside breathtaking landscapes like the Simien Mountains and the Great Rift Valley, Ethiopia appeals to both history enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Ethiopian Tourism Overview

The country's diverse cultures, including the unique tribes of the Omo Valley, add to its allure. Despite challenges, Ethiopia's tourism sector has been steadily growing, contributing significantly to its economy and showcasing its rich heritage to the world.

Tourism Statistics in Ethiopia (2021)

 Ethiopia recorded 518,000 tourist arrivals, securing a global rank of 98th based on absolute numbers. However, when evaluated in terms of tourists per resident, Ethiopia's ranking dropped to 195th worldwide, yet it maintained the 16th position in Eastern Africa with a rate of 0.0042 tourists per resident. 

Impressively, the Ethiopian tourism sector generated approximately $2.60 billion, making a noteworthy contribution of 2.1 percent to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounting for approximately 31 percent of all international tourism receipts within Eastern Africa.

Tourism Development in Ethiopia (1995-2021)

Over the course of 26 years, Ethiopia's tourism sector has seen remarkable development. The data presented excludes business and non-tourism travel, while same-day visitors and crew members of ships or flights are not considered tourists in most countries. Ethiopia's growing dependence on tourism becomes evident when observing this trend, highlighting its increasing importance to the nation's economy.

Tourism Development in Ethiopia

Tourism Revenue Trends in Ethiopia

Ethiopia's tourism revenues stood at $177.00 million, equivalent to approximately 2.3 percent of the country's Gross National Product (GNP). As the years progressed, Ethiopia's reliance on tourism grew substantially. Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2019, tourism revenue surged to an impressive $3.53 billion, contributing significantly with a 3.7 percent share of the GDP. However, in 2020, as a result of the pandemic's impact, tourism revenues contracted to $2.28 billion, marking a substantial 35 percent decline from the previous year.

  • Tourist Spending in Ethiopia

In 2021, the average expenditure per tourist in Ethiopia amounted to approximately $4,769, reflecting the economic contribution and spending patterns of visitors to the country.

  • Detailed Tourism Data for Ethiopia

The table below provides a comprehensive breakdown of tourism statistics in Ethiopia, encompassing the number of tourists, tourism receipts, and their percentage contribution to the country's GDP, spanning from 1995 to 2021. This data offers a historical perspective on Ethiopia's evolving tourism industry.

Tourism Revenue Trends in Ethiopia

Data Sources and International Comparability

Our tourism statistics are derived primarily from the World Tourism Organization. However, to ensure accurate international comparisons, we have conducted manual adjustments, especially in cases where data included visitors without overnight stays. Variations in how countries count tourists, whether at airports, border crossings, or hotels, pose challenges to achieving comprehensive and reliable data, which is a common issue in many nations.


What is the current status of tourism in Ethiopia?

In 2021, Ethiopia welcomed 518,000 tourists, contributing around 2.1 percent to its GDP, with tourism receipts totaling approximately $2.60 billion.

How does Ethiopia's tourism ranking compare to other countries?

In terms of absolute tourist numbers, Ethiopia ranked 98th globally in 2021. However, when considering tourists per resident, it ranked 195th worldwide and 16th in Eastern Africa.

How has Ethiopia's tourism sector developed over the years?

Ethiopia's tourism sector has grown significantly over the past few decades. In 1995, tourism revenues were $177.00 million, while in 2019, they reached $3.53 billion before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a 35 percent decrease in 2020.

How does Ethiopia's tourism industry contribute to Eastern Africa's international tourism receipts?

Ethiopia's tourism sector accounts for approximately 31 percent of all international tourism receipts in Eastern Africa.

Are there any challenges to collecting accurate tourism data in Ethiopia?

Yes, like in many countries, collecting accurate tourism data in Ethiopia can be challenging due to variations in counting tourists at airports, border crossings, or hotels. This can affect the reliability and comparability of the data.

How can I compare Ethiopia's tourism industry with other countries in Eastern Africa?

You can use the statistics provided, such as tourist arrivals, tourism revenue, and their percentage contribution to GDP, to compare Ethiopia's tourism industry with other Eastern African countries.

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