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

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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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

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

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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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


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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.

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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”.


 

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