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Tour operators cancel holidays as unrest tightens grip on Ethiopia. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution October 29, 2016

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 By Hugh MorrisThe Telegraph, 28 OCTOBER 2016

Saga Holidays is among a number of major UK tour operators to cancel trips to Ethiopia as a wave of unrest spreads across the African country.

The Foreign Office (FCO) is advising against all travel to some regions in the east and all but essential travel to central parts that include places such as Lalibela, popular with tourists for its rock-cut churches.

Saga, Kuoni and Cox and Kings are among those to have cancelled tours for this year, offering refunds or alternatives to customers.

The Ethiopian government this month declared a six-month state of emergency and arrested more than 1,600 people as the FCO warned of clashes between protesters and security forces. Protests have been most fervent in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

In August, some 90 people were believed to have been killed after police used live bullets on protesters chanting anti-government slogans and waving dissident flags.

Foreign Office advice Ethiopia
The Foreign Office has different advice for different parts of the country CREDIT: FOREIGN OFFICE

“Demonstrations have been taking place in the Oromia and Amhara regions in 2016 and further protests are likely,” the Foreign Office said.

“Tensions in Oromia have significantly risen since October 2 when up to 100 people died during a stampede at the Irreechaa religious festival.

“There has been widespread disruption to road travel across Ethiopia. Unauthorised and official roadblocks can appear with little or no warning.”

The country had recently been experiencing a boom in its tourism industry, thanks to its unique mix of history, wildlife and culture. Last year, the country was praised by the European Council on Tourism and Trade for its “excellent preservation of humanity landmarks”.

Beside the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, other draws include the Simien Mountains National Park, Lake Langano, and the Danakil Depression, one of the hottest places on earth.

A spokesperson for Kuoni, which offers a tour of the highlights of Northern Ethiopia, said it had stopped selling the trip and would be monitoring the situation.

A spokesperson for Saga, too, said all 2016 departures had been cancelled, adding: “The initial change to FCO advice was that some areas should be avoided. As a result tours were amended to ensure that our holidaymakers were nowhere near those areas. However… the advice changed again and advised against all but essential travel to certain regions of Ethiopia. As a result we took the decision to cancel all 2016 departures.”

Cox and Kings said it would only be able to resume its trips should the FCO advice change.

Responsible Travel, which hosts a number of tour operators on its website running trips in Ethiopia, said some of its clients are continuing to offer tours.

“Several of the holidays we market in Ethiopia are run by local tour operators, who will continue to offer and run the same trips as they always have done,” said marketing manager Sarah Faith.

“It is then up to each individual traveller to consider the FCO advice and to purchase insurance that will cover them given the FCO warnings.

“Our local operators in Ethiopia are extremely well-placed to understand the day-to-day situation on the ground in the country.”

Click here to read related article: Financial Times: Ethiopian unrest triggers collapse in tourism. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution

Financial Times: Ethiopian unrest triggers collapse in tourism. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution October 27, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Ethiopia:“Things are effectively on hold,” said Jim Louth, owner of Undiscovered Destinations, a UK travel company. “If anyone inquires, our policy is to say people are being advised not to go.”  Financial Times

#OromoProtests: “Strikes, ‘ghost town days’ and non-violent protests are more common now because they’re so much harder to police, even under the state of emergency.”  Financial Times

Ethiopian unrest triggers collapse in tourism

Protests and state of emergency see bookings to historic sites grind to a halt

A wave of anti-government protests has caused a collapse in tourist bookings to Ethiopia 

A wave of anti-government protests and the imposition of a state of emergency has triggered a collapse in tourism bookings in Ethiopia, underlining the effect the unrest is having on one of Africa’s best-performing economies.

As the demonstrations spread across the country, governments, including the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Ireland, have advised their citizens against all non-essential travel to the country or Amhara and Oromia regions at the centre of the instability.

Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s prime minister, has said the death toll from the demonstrations, which began last November and have been exacerbated by the authoritarian regime’s brutal crackdown on protesters, could be as high as 500. Thousands of people have been arrested and the government imposed a state of emergency as it grapples with the biggest threat to the Horn of Africa nation’s stability in years. The protests originally began over land disputes, but the state’s harsh response caused them to spiral into broader protests against the government.

An American woman was killed after being caught up in a protest on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the capital, this month.

Travel companies said bookings to the country — home to ancient Christian sites and spectacular highlands — have virtually ground to halt as the unrest and travel warnings keep visitors away.

“Things are effectively on hold,” said Jim Louth, owner of Undiscovered Destinations, a UK travel company. “If anyone inquires, our policy is to say people are being advised not to go.”

Tourism has become an important part of the economy, which has been growing at an annual average of about 10 per cent over the past decade as Ethiopia has attracted increasing levels of foreign investment.

The government estimates the sector contributes about 4.5 per cent of gross domestic product, or $2.9bn. The indirect contribution, through investment, is the same, while about 1.5m people are thought to earn their living from the industry.

More than 750,000 foreign tourists visited Ethiopia last year, with the US by far the largest country of origin, followed by China, Britain and Germany, according to government data.


The blow to tourism comes amid rising investor uncertainty as foreign companies, particularly flower farms and textile factories, have been targeted in a string of attacks that have caused tens of millions of dollars of damage.

The International Monetary Fund warned just before the state of emergency was imposed this month that attracting foreign investment will be crucial to sustaining the high growth rates.

Some travel companies said one problem is that while some of Ethiopia’s most popular sites — such as the city of Aksum — are not located in Amhara or Oromia, people have to travel through those regions to reach them.

“People on their first visit will want to go to the main sites and not be stressed,” said the UK-based Ultimate Travel Company. “More adventurous travellers might still go to places like the Omo valley that haven’t been affected, but most people will simply wait.”

The Ethiopian Tourism Organisation, a government body, insisted that “all tourist areas of the country are safe”.

“It is as safe now for tourists and business visitors to travel in Ethiopia as it has been for the last 22 years since the new constitution has been introduced,” it said in a statement.

Kiros Mahari, the general manager of the Ethiopian Tour Operators Association, said that “while there has been some unrest for a while, the situation has been restored back to normal”.

Emma Gordon, an analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a risk consultancy, said such statements “come across as unbelievable”.

“The situation is quieter now than a few weeks ago, but the protests have not stopped,” she said. “Strikes, ‘ghost town days’ and non-violent protests are more common now because they’re so much harder to police, even under the state of emergency.”

Ms Gordon predicted that once the protesters had worked out how to cope with the state of emergency, which bans all protests, political communication on social media, and political gatherings, “there will be an upsurge in unrest”.


#OromoProtests, #OromoRevolution: The point of no return in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Ranked 4th Most Fragile State


Ethiopia scores one of the worst rankings in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2015 compiled by World Economic Forum: 134/141 in tourist service infrustructure, 118/141 in over all global ranking and 17/28 in Eastern and South Eastern African region August 23, 2015

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The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index compiled by World Economic Forum measures the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the Travel & Tourism sector in a country. The index is expressed on a 1 (worst) to 7 (best) scale across 90 indicators, and assesses 141 economies.

Ethiopia attains the 1181st position overall. Tourism does not play a very important role in the economy, as it is ranking 1181st in terms of T&T prioritization. Given its cultural resources (79th) and natural assets (63rd), the country’s limited development of the tourism industry appears to be a missed opportunity for diversifying the economy and creating employment opportunities. However,  several factors  have  constrained the potential development of the T&T sector in Ethiopia. Improving the inadequate infrastructures,  the safety and security, human resources, business environment, heath and hygiene and ICT  situations remain arguably the highest priority, as highlighted by low scores in the  survey.

Ethiopia:                                                          Rank                                                            Score

  • Overall                                                    118th                                                              3.03
  • Business environment                        116th                                                               3.90
  • Safety and security                               80th                                                                5.18
  • Health and hygiene                             104th                                                               4.35
  • Human resources and labour market 126th                                                             3.63
  • ICT readiness                                        137th                                                               1.88
  • Prioritization of Travel & Tourism    118th                                                               3.75
  • International Openness                      93rd                                                                 2.57
  • Price competitiveness                         69th                                                                 4.65
  • Environmental sustainability            76th                                                                  4.00
  • Air transport infrastructure               90th                                                                 2.27
  • Ground and port infrastructure       123rd                                                                2.51
  • Tourist service infrastructure          134th                                                                 2.23
  • Natural resources                              63rd                                                                    3.00
  • Cultural resources                               79th                                                                   1.50


Key Indicators:
Population (millions) 88.8
GDP (US$ billions) 48.1
GDP per capita (US$) 541.87
GDP (PPP) as share (%) of world total 0.14




Spain leads the 2015 TTCI ranking for the first time, and Europe—with a total of six countries in the top 10—is confirmed as the region with the most T&T-competitive economies. Given the importance of the regional dimension for tourism, the following sections present country performances in the context of five regional groups: Europe and the Caucasus; the Americas (headed by the United States, 4th in the overall list); Asia Pacific, including Central Asia (headed by Australia, 7th overall); Middle East and North Africa (United Arab Emirates, 24th); and Sub-Saharan Africa (South Africa, 48th).

Table 1: The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index 2015 Ranking

Rank Country/Economy Value
1 Spain 5.31
2 France 5.24
3 Germany 5.22
4 United States 5.12
5 United Kingdom 5.12
6 Switzerland 4.99
7 Australia 4.98
8 Italy 4.98
9 Japan 4.94
10 Canada 4.92
11 Singapore 4.86
12 Austria 4.82
13 Hong Kong SAR 4.68
14 Netherlands 4.67
15 Portugal 4.64
16 New Zealand 4.64
17 China 4.54
18 Iceland 4.54
19 Ireland 4.53
20 Norway 4.52
21 Belgium 4.51
22 Finland 4.47
23 Sweden 4.45
24 United Arab Emirates 4.43
25 Malaysia 4.41
26 Luxembourg 4.38
27 Denmark 4.38
28 Brazil 4.37
29 Korea, Rep. 4.37
30 Mexico 4.36
31 Greece 4.36
32 Taiwan, China 4.35
33 Croatia 4.3
34 Panama 4.28
35 Thailand 4.26
36 Cyprus 4.25
37 Czech Republic 4.22
38 Estonia 4.22
39 Slovenia 4.17
40 Malta 4.16
41 Hungary 4.14
42 Costa Rica 4.1
43 Qatar 4.09
44 Turkey 4.08
45 Russian Federation 4.08
46 Barbados 4.08
47 Poland 4.08
48 South Africa 4.08
49 Bulgaria 4.05
50 Indonesia 4.04
51 Chile 4.04
52 India 4.02
53 Latvia 4.01
54 Seychelles 4
55 Puerto Rico 3.91
56 Mauritius 3.9
57 Argentina 3.9
58 Peru 3.88
59 Lithuania 3.88
60 Bahrain 3.85
61 Slovak Republic 3.84
62 Morocco 3.81
63 Sri Lanka 3.8
64 Saudi Arabia 3.8
65 Oman 3.79
66 Romania 3.78
67 Montenegro 3.75
68 Colombia 3.73
69 Trinidad and Tobago 3.71
70 Namibia 3.69
71 Georgia 3.68
72 Israel 3.66
73 Uruguay 3.65
74 Philippines 3.63
75 Vietnam 3.6
76 Jamaica 3.59
77 Jordan 3.59
78 Kenya 3.58
79 Tunisia 3.54
80 Guatemala 3.51
81 Dominican Republic 3.5
82 Macedonia, FYR 3.5
83 Egypt 3.49
84 Azerbaijan 3.48
85 Kazakhstan 3.48
86 Cape Verde 3.46
87 Bhutan 3.44
88 Botswana 3.42
89 Armenia 3.42
90 Honduras 3.41
91 El Salvador 3.41
92 Nicaragua 3.37
93 Tanzania 3.35
94 Lebanon 3.35
95 Serbia 3.34
96 Lao PDR 3.33
97 Iran, Islamic Rep. 3.32
98 Rwanda 3.32
99 Mongolia 3.31
100 Bolivia 3.29
101 Suriname 3.28
102 Nepal 3.27
103 Kuwait 3.26
104 Guyana 3.26
105 Cambodia 3.24
106 Albania 3.22
107 Zambia 3.22
108 Swaziland 3.2
109 Gambia, The 3.2
110 Venezuela 3.18
111 Moldova 3.16
112 Senegal 3.14
113 Paraguay 3.11
114 Uganda 3.11
115 Zimbabwe 3.09
116 Kyrgyz Republic 3.08
117 Côte d’Ivoire 3.05
118 Ethiopia 3.03
119 Tajikistan 3.03
120 Ghana 3.01
121 Madagascar 2.99
122 Cameroon 2.95
123 Algeria 2.93
124 Gabon 2.92
125 Pakistan 2.92
126 Malawi 2.9
127 Bangladesh 2.9
128 Mali 2.87
129 Lesotho 2.82
130 Mozambique 2.81
131 Nigeria 2.79
132 Sierra Leone 2.77
133 Haiti 2.75
134 Myanmar 2.72
135 Burundi 2.7
136 Burkina Faso 2.67
137 Mauritania 2.64
138 Yemen 2.62
139 Angola 2.6
140 Guinea 2.58
141 Chad 2.43

Sub-Saharan Africa

T&T in Africa has significant potential, notably due to richness in natural resources and the potential to further develop cultural resources. However, it is still mostly in the early stages of development and strongly connected with more general and longstanding development challenges, including infrastructure as well as health and hygiene. While improvements have been achieved in these areas, especially at the local level, they remain important hurdles to attracting international tourists. As the region’s average GDP per capita is less than 4,000 PPP USD, the industry’s growth depends heavily on attracting tourists from other continents.

Most countries in the region are aware of the potential role of tourism as an economic opportunity and development catalyst, and have drafted strategic plans to develop the sector. However, the extent to which the actual implementation of those plans is a national priority varies significantly. Tanzania, Gambia, Kenya and South Africa are all putting significant efforts into advancing T&T development, trailing behind only the Seychelles and Mauritius, where the tourism sector’s share of the economy is particularly large. Also related to political and institutional issues, the business environment varies widely, with South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda and Mauritius among the region’s leaders and Angola, Zimbabwe and Chad among those performing less well.

Two aspects in particular require more international cooperation. One is openness, with some recent policy changes showing a will to make progress—for example, the 15 members of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have introduced a visa policy that enables free movement of people across member states, offering a larger market to international travellers. Nonetheless, most countries in the region still have significant travel restrictions in place, and there are even discussions of tightening visa policies in countries such as South Africa.

While most countries in the region perform well on environmental sustainability, specific issues such as poaching also require more international collaboration. African governments have already started to work collaboratively to pool resources and information, deploy rangers across cross-border areas and collaborate with customs and law enforcement in destination markets for products derived from poaching, notably in Asia.

South Africa leads the regional ranking and ranks 48th overall, driven by its rich natural (22nd) and cultural (20th) resources, a positive business environment (15th) characterized by little red tape and modest administrative burden and relatively good infrastructure compared to neighboring countries. South Africa is still reaping the benefits of the 2010 World Cup, with several sports stadiums that can host significant entertainment events. In addition, several international association meetings take place in the country every year (36th). South Africa is blessed with abundant wildlife (25th) and several World Heritage sites (15th), which attract the attention of tourists worldwide, ranking 24th in online searches for nature-related activities. The country’s attention to forestry (5th) and participation in international treaties has further supported its tourism industry, though further efforts should be taken to protect coastlines (104th), biodiversity (almost 8% of the large variety of species is endangered) and land (only 6.5% is protected). South Africa also still needs to develop in terms of security (119th) and health (114th), which, together with the labour market (135th), represent the main challenges not only for the tourist sector, but also for the country’s general competitiveness. In addition, South Africa’s visa policy (where the country currently ranks 67th) is poised to become more stringent with the imposition of new immigration laws that also impact visitors, this could certainly harm South Africa’s T&T competitiveness going forward.

Mauritius is a major tourist destination, ranking 3rd in the region and 56th globally. Tourism is one of its main industries, accounting for over 10% of GDP and more than 16% of government investment. Mauritius offers a safe (33rd) and business friendly (24th) environment to develop the T&T industry, with qualified human resources (47th) and a ground (27th) and tourist service infrastructure (28th) that can adequately transport and receive the almost 1 million tourists visiting the country annually. Its air transport infrastructure is somewhat less developed (60th) and could perhaps extend its capacity and open to more airlines. However, sustainability is key for Mauritius; balancing infrastructure development with conservation is becoming more challenging, with a high share of species under threat (134th) and limited protected areas. Greater attention to all aspects of environmental conservation could be beneficial, both by maintaining its resources and by improving the country’s positioning and competitiveness in terms of natural tourism.

Kenya ranks 78th overall and 5th in the region. Natural resources (11th) are well-known assets, as seen in the high number of online searches for natural tourism (10th); Kenya is home to many species and UNESCO heritage sites. The government is trying to leverage these resources by attributing a high importance to the T&T sector (23rd): it is investing approximately 7% of its budget in tourism and has carried out an effective marketing campaign, according to both business leaders (21st) and an external assessment (31st).  Environmental sustainability (39th) is also an area of strength, with the notable exception of deforestation (84th) and percentage of wastewater treated (109th). Similarly to other countries in the region, safety and security (131st) and health and hygiene (121st) are the main areas for improvement. For example, the business costs associated with crime and violence (127th) and the incidence of terrorism (131st) limit the tourism and business potential. Kenya’s low access to improved sanitation (125th) and drinking water (131st) highlight the efforts still required to develop the country, as does ICT readiness (103rd), especially in terms of mobile services and broadband internet availability which is going to play an increasingly important role going forward.

Botswana ranks only 7th in the region and 88th overall, despite its remarkable natural resources, including biodiversity and stunning landscapes, notably the Kgalagadi Park, which it shares with South Africa. Botswana has a strong price competitiveness advantage (14th), a relatively conducive business environment (36th) and better safety and security levels (84th) than many peers. However, infrastructures are not well developed, also compared to neighboring South Africa and Namibia. Ground transport (105th) attains a somewhat lower score, and air and tourist service infrastructures (91st) also need significant upgrades. The limited air service impacts the country’s connectedness and actual degree of openness (118th). In addition, despite the prevalence of rich cultural resources, they are not well leveraged, with very few oral and intangible practices recognized worldwide. Country branding is relatively poor given significant T&T-related investment, and a more effective marketing strategy together with long-term infrastructure development could certainly improve the country’s T&T competitiveness.

Nigeria attains the 131st position overall. Tourism does not play a very important role in the economy, accounting for only approximately 1.5% of GDP and employment, and it is not high on the government agenda, ranking 131st in terms of T&T prioritization. Given Nigeria’s cultural resources (57th) and natural assets, the country’s limited development of the tourism industry appears to be a missed opportunity for diversifying the economy and creating employment opportunities. However, significant challenges constrain the potential development of the T&T sector in Nigeria. Firstly, improving the safety and security (141st) situation remains arguably the highest priority, as highlighted by low scores for both the survey and statistics measuring the incidence of violence and terrorism. Secondly, infrastructure is inadequate, hindering economic competitiveness beyond the T&T sector. Nigerian business leaders consider lack of infrastructure as the most problematic factor for doing business, and Nigeria ranks only 127th on ground transport, 111th on air transport and 114th on tourism services infrastructure.7Improving on these aspects is complex and requires time, but would bring long-term benefits not only to T&T competitiveness but also Nigeria’s development path.