Violent protests in some regions have led to Foreign Office warnings against holidays in Ethiopia, but though messages are mixed, most local operators report that it’s business as usual.
With nine Unesco world heritage sites and an archeological history that goes back to the first humans, Ethiopia’s ancient treasures – along with its national parks and mountain ranges – have been drawing a growing number of tourists, after years of being more strongly associated by the west with famine.
But its flourishing – and vital – tourist industry faces collapse this month, after violent anti-government protests across the country led the Ethiopian government to declare a six-month state of emergency. The US and UK are both warning citizens against all but essential travel there.
“The state of emergency and FCO travel advisory have taken a heavy toll on bookings for the next six months,” said Nigel Nicoll of the African Travel and Tourism Association (Atta), who added that Ethiopia had been one of Africa’s fastest growing destinations.
But Ethiopia’s main tourist sites are well away from the regions seeing the worst disruption, with local operators stressing that the risk to tourists is low.
“None of the tourist sites in Addis has been affected: our tours there are running normally,” said Eliza Richman of Go Addis Tours. “Our bookings for October were roughly the same as last year, but people are mostly booking tours at the last minute. We have very few advance bookings for November.”
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