Ethiopia aims to triple its number of foreign visitors to more than 2.5 million by 2020, making tourism a pillar of one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.
Buoyed by huge spending on infrastructure and an expansion of its services and agricultural sectors, Addis Ababa expects annual economic growth of around 11 percent for the next five years.
Visitor numbers have risen at least 10 percent a year for the past decade, albeit from a very low base.
More than 750,000 tourists came during fiscal year 2014/2015, generating $2.9 billion for the economy, said Culture and Tourism Minister Amin Abdulkadir.
“There is a lot of demand in terms of bookings and investment plans. Our target is to receive more than 2.5 million in five years time,” he told Reuters in an interview.
“This sector will generate foreign direct investment and foreign currency and create job opportunities, as well as contribute to image-building.”
Ethiopia’s target for 2020 looks modest, however, in comparison to that of Egypt, where 9.9 million tourists visited last year.
“We are a peaceful and stable country. Plus, we have the right policies and strategies,” said Amin. “It will not be long before we reach the levels of our neighbors.”