Protected Areas as Tool to Boost Tourism
As Ethiopia charts a course toward creating a low-emission and climate resilient future, it is looking for ways to find the most efficient and innovative solutions to meet the country’s social development needs and biodiversity conservation goals.
The government is working tirelessly to unlock the potential of protected areas in Ethiopia so that they will be effectively managed and sustainably financed, and contribute to sustainable development. Expanding protected area coverage and involving local communities in these efforts could be one of the most effective ways to reinforce nature’s and people’s resilience to climate change, increase tourism revenues, bolster business development and create job opportunities in Ethiopia. Tourism is also seen as a major source of jobs and livelihoods for those living in and around protected areas.
The high level, multi-stakeholder workshops and reviews on the gaps in Ethiopia’s wildlife policies and legislation as well as the discussions on the draft wildlife marketing strategies held in late July 2013 illustrate the government’s growing interest and strong commitment in investing in sustainable tourism and development of protected areas.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ethiopia is pleased to be part of this process and continues to be very committed to playing its part by providing the government support for capacity development, provision of strategic and technical assistance, and facilitation of partnerships. UNDP’s support is channelled through its Global Environment Facility (GEF) financed project on the sustainable development of the protected area system.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has noted that close to 630,000 foreigners visited the various historical, natural and religious sites of the country and brought in 663.7 million US dollars during the recently concluded Ethiopian fiscal year 2005. Compared to the past year, the number of tourists grew by 7.8 per cent and the revenue by 37 per cent. For the upcoming years, Ethiopian government has set an ambitious target to pull in one million tourists and to earn three billion US dollars more by 2015.
Ethiopia has the potential to boost its tourism sector. The country has an astonishing range of wildlife with 320 listed mammal species, 36 of these being endemic. The gelada baboon, the Walia ibex, the Menelik’s bushbuck, the mountain nyala, Swayne’s hartebeest and the Simien fox are the most prominent endemic mammals. Ethiopia is similarly one of the most remarkable places in the world for viewing diverse and colourful birdlife. Well over 860 species of birds are listed and, of these, 18 varieties cannot be seen outside Ethiopia.