Ethiopia’s rapid reforms under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appear to be paying dividends in tourism and international travel, with Addis Ababa becoming the new “gateway to Africa.”
That’s according to data from industry analysts at Forward Keys, who found an “extraordinary rise” for Ethiopia as a destination and transfer hub into sub-Saharan Africa.
“The data shows that Addis Ababa has grown its volume of international transfer passengers to Sub-Saharan Africa five years in a row,” said Olivier Ponti, a vice president of insights speaking at a tourism Africa Leaders Forum in South Africa. “It also highlights that Addis Ababa’s Bole airport, which is currently being upgraded with a new terminal, at the cost of $345 million, has overtaken Dubai as the leading gateway to the region, based on this measure.”
International bookings for Ethiopia, from November into January 2019, are up 40 percent over the same period last year. Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe follow, in that order.
That was welcome news to the Ethiopian government, especially Ethiopian Investment Commissioner Fitsum Arega. He returned to the commission earlier this month after a stint as Abiy’s information minister.
“Congratulations to every single customer and staff of Ethiopian Airlines for your trust, excellence, hard work and team spirit to paint the global skies green, yellow, red,” the exuberant commissioner said.
He credited Abiy’s reforms, airport investment and Ethiopia’s decision to provide visa-on-arrival to all Africans for the travel boost. “The sky’s indeed the limit!” he added.
Image: Fitsum Arega