In recent years, Ethiopia’s tourism industry has long lagged behind other African nations. However, that is about to change. Recent comparable data showed that Africa’s most popular destinations – Morocco and South Africa – got 9.3 million and 8.3 million overseas visitors respectively in 2011. Ethiopia by contrast received just 523,000, putting it in 17th place across the continent.
But visitor numbers to Ethiopia are now growing by 10% each year, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It adds the income the country’s tourism sector receives is growing by 20% per annum, as the tourists who do visit are spending more. Across the whole of the Simien Mountains National Park the number of annual tourists has increased from 5,000 in 2007 to 24,000 last year.
A high proportion of the newer visitors are Americans and Europeans aged over 50, people who have – and are happy to spend – money.