"Best value destination for 2014"
Dragoman DOUBLE departures to keep up with demand
Having long lagged behind other African nations, tourism to Ethiopia is now growing by 10% year on year, according to recent figures by the Ethiopian Ministry of Tourism and Culture*.
Greg Dorey, the UK's ambassador to Ethiopia, says that the government there has expressed its intention to make the country one of the best visitor destinations in Africa.
Although Ethiopia currently ranks as the 17th most visited place in the continent (after Morocco and South Africa, who received 9.3 million and 8.3 million visitors respectively), the upgrading and modernisation of major airports and Ethiopia Airlines, as well as increasing consumer demand for 'exotic' destinations, are all major drivers of travel and tourism growth.
Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, for example, has now expanded its runway to cater for larger airplanes and has self-service check in kiosks to ease traveller congestion, making for a much more rewarding passenger experience.
The cumulative effect of investment and promotion is certainly working. In 2013, Lonely Planet rated Addis Ababa as one of the top ten places to visit in the world, the only African city to do so, whilst visitor numbers to the Simien Mountains National Park have increased from 5,000 in 2007 to 24,000 in 2013. Lonely Planet also named Ethiopia as one of the best value destinations in the world for 2014
Dragoman Overseas Travel Ltd, which is also the parent company of small group adventure specialist, Imaginative Traveller and the bespoke operator, Tailor-madeadventures.com, has identified it as one of its fastest growing destinations for 2014.
"Although we've operated in Ethiopia for over 20 years," says Charlie Hopkinson, Dragoman CEO, "this year is the first year we've ever offered the country as a stand-alone trip, rather than as part of a longer, multi-country adventure.
"We've also doubled departures to Ethiopia for 2014 - 2015, with trips leaving every three weeks during the peak tourist season," he says.
Charlie cites an improving infrastructure, with better tourist facilities such as the Simien Lodge, 'The highest hotel in Africa', as well as growing customer awareness in the country as reasons for increase in passenger numbers.
"Ethiopia offers travellers a two-for-one package: the Christian Kingdom culture in places like Lalibela, Lake Tana and the Axum, Ethiopia's oldest city but also the untouched, tribal Africa in the Omo Valley."
Interestingly, he also says that passengers are changing their allegiance from Egypt to other African countries, with Ethiopia, Jordan and Morocco as the main beneficiaries.
HOW TO GET THERE
NEW! Imaginative Traveller offer a two week 'Lost Tribes of Ethiopia' tip from £2080 per person. Highlights: Addis Ababa, Nechisar National Park, Jinka, South Omo Villages, El Sod (house of salt), Lake Awasa, hot springs of Wondo Genet. Hotels 9 nights, camping 4 nights, 13 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 10 dinners.
For bookings call Imaginative Traveller on 01728 885 514 or visit imaginative-traveller.com
NEW! Tailor-madeadventures.com offers a 10 day Ethiopian Highlights bespoke trip for £2,450 per person ex Addis Ababa based on two people travelling. Highlights include: Addis Ababa, Axum, Lalibela, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Simien Mountains. The price includes the services of an English speaking driver throughout and English speaking guides at various sites.
Hotel-based accommodation is between 3 - 4 star and includes a stay at the Simien Lodge.
For bookings, call Tailor-madeadventures.com on 01728 888 030 or visit tailor-madeadventures.com
Dragoman offers 23 trips that include Ethiopia. The most popular are:
NEW! Addis Ababa Loop, 23 days overlanding around Ethiopia from £981 per person, kitty US400. Highlights include: Rour Lalibela, cruise Lake Tana, cross the Blue Nile Gorge to Bahir Dar, 3 day trek in Simien Mountains, Explore ancient temple sites at Tigray, Axum and Gondar.
Gondar - Addis Ababa, 21 days overlanding across Ethiopia from £819 per person, kitty of US$370. Highlights include: Trek the Simien Mountains, visit rock-hewn churches at Lalibela, explore Gondar, Axum & Mekele, view the Blue Nile Falls, take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit colourful island monasteries.
Addis Ababa - Nairobi, 24 days overlanding between Ethiopia and Kenya, from £1008, kitty from US$700. Highlights include 4 days in Omo Valley tribal region, Bale Mountains National Park, Crise Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo island, Samburu National Park, Safari in Lake Nakuru and Elsamere Born Free Foundation.
For bookings, contact Dragoman on 01728 888 051 or visit dragoman.com
NEW! Imaginative Traveller offer a 21 day Historic Ethiopian Highlands trip from £819 per person, kitty from US$370 per person. Highlights include: Nechisar National Park for game viewing, Jinka to visit the Mursi people, South Omo Villages to visit the bull-jumping Hamar tribe, the Dassanach and the Konso people, the 'singing wells' of Dublock and Chew Bet, the 'house of salt', Lake Awasa, hot springs of Wondo Genet, Addis Ababa.
For bookings, contact Imaginative Traveller on 01728 885 514 or visit imaginative-traveller.com
Notes to Editors
*Source: 'Ethiopia's big plans to boost tourist numbers': http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business
These figures are the most recent statistics available.