Need to book a vacation? Maybe you could visit the conventional European destinations like France or Italy. But according to the European Council on Tourism and Trade, the best place to visit is in Africa, specifically Ethiopia. The country was chosen as the number one tourist destination out of 31 other countries. Tourism is a growing industry in the nation with the numbers growing by 10% over the last ten years. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2014, the sector contributed about 4.1% to the country’s GDP, created close to a million jobs, and generated over two billion dollars. What is so attractive about this country?
1. A stunning landscape
The national parks are a sight to behold. They are fertile and dramatic, with high mountains and deep valleys.
2. A rich history
Ethiopia has a rich and ancient culture with a 3,000-year-old archeological history. It has nine UNESCO World Heritage sites.
3. Lively festivals
The majority of Ethiopia is orthodox Christian and the celebrations span the entire country. A model of the Ark of the Covenant, a wooden chest clad with gold containing the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, is paraded in towns around the nation.
4. UNESCO World Heritage sites
One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites is Negash – a tiny village where the country’s first Muslim communities lived. It is believed that Prophet Muhammad’s daughter lived here at one point.
5. The oldest churches in the world
The country has the oldest church in the world that dates all the way back to the fourth century. In the town of Lalibela, there are 11 underground churches carved out of a rock. The town has sacred sites linked by tunnels and has become a popular place of pilgrimage for followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Lalibela attracts about 80,000-100,000 visitors a year.
6. Amazing works of nature
Ethiopia is also home to the Danakil Depression desert basin. The basin reaches up to 125 meters below sea level. It has several hot springs, such as the one pictured below.
7. World’s oldest active lava lake
Also in the basin lies something the local call “the gateway to hell.” The Erta Ale volcanic crater is world’s oldest active lava lake.
8. Great vineyards
If you are taking a trip with a significant other, visit the winery that is outside of Ziway in central Ethiopia. The grapes on the vineyards are turned into syrah, merlot, and chardonnay.
9. A growing fashion industry
Are you interested in buying unique clothes? If so, head to Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s fashion industry is becoming well-known for woven cotton fabrics.