Ethiopia receives the “2015 –World Best Tourist Destination” award
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Ethiopia, the oldest independent country in Africa, has been elected the winner of the World Best Tourist Destination award for 2015. It was crowned as the most deserving candidate, with an excellent record of promoting social-friendly tourism and of ecological and poverty reduction strategies based on tourism. This award goes to countries that are embracing tourism as a resource for cultural and social development, who respect the ethics of human relations and preserve their cultural and natural heritage. The cities and countries must also prove their commitment towards sustainable development, ‘fair’ tourism and historical preservation.
The European Council on Tourism and Trade acknowledged the Government of Ethiopia for recognizing the importance of tourism as a key facilitator for the country’s development and international promotion. It noted the creation of exemplary structures like the Tourism Transformation Council, the emphasis on investing in infrastructure and capacity building, of creating a special team for destination promotion and management and for the protection of the cultural, natural and historical patrimony of the country. Professor Dr. Anton Caragea, President of the European Council on Tourism and Trade, noted that in the 21st century tourism had become more than an industry, more than an integral part of the life of billions of people. It had become an intricate part of countries’ international image, a part of diplomatic life and a key public opinion factor.
According to the General Assembly of the European Council on Tourism and Trade, Ethiopia received the “2015 - World Best Tourist Destination” award due to the excellent work for the preservation of landmark sites. These included the ruins of the city of Aksum- the heart of ancient Ethiopia; the Fasil Ghebbi- the residence of the Ethiopian emperors during the 16th and 17th century; Harar Jugol with the city’s 82 mosques, 102 shrines, and the unique interior design of its townhouses; Lalibela, a holy city encompassing eleven medieval stone-carved churches of the 13th century; the Konso Cultural Landscape (containing 55 kilometers of stonewalled terraces and fortified settlements); the Lower Valley of the Awash where humanity took its first steps and where the bones of the Eve of all mankind, Dinkenesh or Lucy, were found; and the Lower Valley of the Omo which also contains fragments of the remains of early humanoid ancestors and the fossils of Homo Gracilis.
Among other reasons given for awarding the 2015 prize to Ethiopia were the rich cultural and historic legacies of more recently developed landmarks including the Sheikh Hussein Religious, Cultural and Historical Site; the Melka Kunture Paleolithic site in the upper Awash Valley; the Gedeo Cultural and Natural Landscape; the Bale Mountains National Park; and the Sof Omar Cave complex, the longest cave in Ethiopia at 15.1 kilometers long, and the longest system of caves in Africa, sacred both to Islam and the local Oromo population.
With all these are being developed within the framework of the government’s aim to make tourism one of the country’s leading economic sectors and a top tourist destination in Africa, the European Council on Tourism and Trade designated Prime Minister Hailemariam as a world leader of tourism and a member of European Tourism Academy in “recognition of the role and significance of tourism on the world stage”. It was the emphasis on building on Ethiopia’s natural, historical and cultural resources to strengthen the tourism sector, identify pressing value-chain gaps and intervene to resolve these gaps, on the basis of tangible scientific studies jointly organized with the private sector and the international tourism community, that allowed Ethiopia to take the 2015 World Best Tourist Destination award, and to be accepted as a favorite cultural destination.
The European Council on Tourism and Trade is a driving force in the international promotion of tourism as a tool for development and international cooperation. It looks to the Ethiopian Government to support the creation of a new world community based on peace, development and tourism as pillars of international cooperation. And recognizing Ethiopia as a perfect, safe and outstanding place to visit, world tourism experts have expressed their confidence in the potential and the future of tourism in Ethiopia.