By Daniel Kibsgaard, The Reporter
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -Â TESFA, which also means â€˜hopeâ€™ in Amharic, is a tour operator unlike any other in Ethiopia because of its unique vision of â€˜community tourism.â€™
Â The organization has pioneered the concept since 2004 when it was founded as a largely Ethiopian venture, derived from the work of SOS Childrenâ€™s Village. Â The TESFA community guides offer trekking trips of all skill levels in the Wollo Highlands near Lalibela.
Community tourism is not to be confused with eco tourism. Â Girma Alebachew Reta, booking coordinator and my guide, describes community tourism as focusing not only on conserving the environment, but also as â€œrunning tourism activities without affecting the customs, traditions and religionâ€ of the community. It means that the treks are organized by the community, for the community by local guides so that as much money as possible stays where it belongs. Furthermore, community tourism means that 60 percent of the money that goes to TESFA is reinvested into community projects. Â In the past, this has included the construction of schools, grain banks and grain mills in support of local farmers and their children.
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