Ethiopian Tourism – a land awaiting rediscovery

Even though Ethiopia is the oldest place on earth for human habitation, current day Ethiopian tourism is still in its infancy and receives fewer visitors than other African destinations. Join our tour and travel through Ethiopia before the rest of the world catches on.

Ethiopia is being discovered by discerning travellers, interested in getting off the beaten track and exploring lesser known parts of Africa.

In 2015, Ethiopia received 910,000 visitors. This can be compared with 2014 figures from the African Development Bank for the top 4 African destinations of Morocco (10.3m), Egypt (9.6m), South Africa (9.5m) and Tunisia (6.1m), respectively. Zimbabwe received 1.9m visitors.

There is a sense that Ethiopia is just beginning to be discovered, which means it is a great time to visit this incredible country.

Developing Ethiopia's tourism adventures

Some tourism infrastructure is not as developed as in other destinations. However, many major roads have recently been rebuilt with new asphalt and the standard of hotels and restaurants is constantly improving with new investments in the hospitality sector.

Ethiopia was voted World Best Tourist Destination 2015 by the General Assembly of the European Council on Tourism and Trade. Tourists contributed a record USD 3.5 Billion to the Ethiopian economy last year.

Visitor numbers have been growing about 12% annually over the last 10 years and an estimated 2.2 million jobs have been created according to the African Development Bank. This is quite impressive for a country with no sea coast or ocean beach resorts.

According to Ato Solomon Tadesse, CEO of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization, “People don’t know a lot about Ethiopia. It is the land on which human beings walked upright for the first time. It is the land that brought a gift to the whole world, coffee, that everybody enjoys every morning. It is the land with the source of the Blue Nile, where civilization started.”

Come and the see Ethiopia before it becomes the beaten path!

Ethiopia & The Lord of the Rings

Many authors and bloggers have delved into the world of Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and its connection with Ethiopia as an inspiration for the creation of the fictional setting of Middle-Earth.

JRR Tolkien’s inspiration for his best-selling books - The Lord of the Rings - has always been a mystery. Tolkien himself always insisted his ideas came naturally. Numerous researchers and biographers have sought to discover the source of Tolkien’s writing inspiration but with little success. However, many are now believing the answer lies within the heart of Africa - Ethiopia!

Authour of The Real Middle-Earth, Michael Muhling, sought to understand the Abyssinian (modern day Ethiopia) connection with JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings over eight years. Rigourously testing theories, analysing logic and researching countless notions led to conclusions of a unique connection between LOTR and Ethiopia’s top historical sites: Gondor/Gondar, Rohan/Roha, Barad-dûr/Bahir Dar, and Harad/Harar.

Even though JRR Tolkien never visited the heart of Africa, it is suggested that some of the Lord of the RIngs was inspired by Ethiopia and its eastern counterparts. Interestingly, Tolkien was actually born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. What's more, he started composing his first novel not long after Italy's invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. So, despite the fact that the writer lived in England at the time he composed the books, Africa was very possibly his inspiration for Lord of the Rings.

Visit these links to learn more about The Lord of the Rings and the Ethiopian connection:

New Zealand Tourism / Lord of the Rings

Tolkien Blog Post / The real Middle Earth

Discover your own Ethiopian Middle Earth Tour