Roles of Tourism/Ecotourism in Conservation and Development in Ethiopia

Haileab Zegeye


The aim of this review is to highlight the roles of tourism/ecotourism in conservation and development in Ethiopia. Tourism industry is currently emerging as one of the most important economic sectors in the world. In 2013, tourism accounted for 6 % of the world’s overall exports, 9.1 % of the employment (1 in 11 jobs) and 9 % of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In line with the growth of international tourism, the tourism industry in Ethiopia is now growing fast. Indeed, there is a great potential for the development of the tourism industry in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has many remarkable natural, historical and cultural tourist attractions. It is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. International tourist arrivals in Ethiopia increased from 138,856 in 1997 to 596,341 in 2012. Tourism receipts (revenues) also increased from USD 43 million in 1997 to USD 1.2 billion in 2012. Tourism is, generally, with minimum impacts on the environment. Moreover, tourism contributes to the conservation and management of natural, historical and cultural resources. Some of the revenues generated from tourism can be used (should be used) for conservation of biodiversity (establishment and management of protected areas, greening landscapes), preservation and restoration of historical and cultural resources and raising the environmental awareness of residents and visitors. Tourism significantly contributes to the local and national economy. In 2011, tourism accounted for 6.6 % of the overall export. In 2012, tourism generated over 700,000 jobs and accounted for 2.29 % of the GDP. Therefore, tourism plays a great role in natural and cultural heritage conservation and socio-economic development. Ethiopia needs to promote sustainable tourism including ecotourism. On the other hand, if tourism is not properly planned and managed, tourism development can lead to negative economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts. Tourism development in Ethiopia should be based on the principles of sustainability – social equity, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability. Sustainable tourism maximizes the benefits of tourism and minimizes its negative impacts. Ethiopian tourism, through effective policy and plans, is expected to make major progress in the future.

Keywords: Conservation, Development, Ecotourism, Ethiopia, Sustainability, Tourism, Tourist attractions

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ISSN (Paper) 2312-5187   ISSN (Online) 2312-5179

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