Ethiopia aims to earn $200 mln from tourism
ADDIS ABABA, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Ethiopia hopes to boost tourism earnings 15 percent to $200 million this year, the government said on Wednesday.
“Tourist flow into Ethiopia has shown a marked improvement over the last five years,” said Solomon Ali, head of public relations at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
“That is due to publicity campaigns aimed at changing the country’s image from the stereotypical picture of famine and war to a nation of ancient history and culture.”
Solomon said Ethiopia hopes to attract 400,000 tourists this year, up from 340,000 in 2007 when it earned $170 million.
The country hopes to trade on its reputation as the cradle of humankind, and the government has invested heavily in hotels, airports and other infrastructure to lure visitors.
Much of the focus has been on historic sites in the north, which include the obelisks at Axum — reputed to be the home of the Biblical Queen of Sheba — the stunning rock-hewn churches of Lalibella and several ancient castles.
Many tourists also visit Afar in the far northeast of the country to see the site where “Lucy”, the fossilised bones of a 3.2 million-year-old hominid, was discovered.
Solomon said Lucy’s remains were currently on a six-year tour of museums in the United States, and officials hoped this would create more interest in Ethiopia. Some Ethiopians, however, worry that the fragile bones may not survive the tour.