Pitfalls of Tourism Development in Ethiopia: A Case of Bahir Dar Town and Its Surroundings, a Historical Perspective


The history of tourism is one of the neglected themes in Ethiopian history which has received less scholarly attention. In Ethiopia, the development of modern tourism as an important economic sector traced back to the imperial regime. This was when the Ethiopian Tourist Organization (ETO) was founded in 1961. Since that period, until the overthrow of the regime in 1974, the development of tourism has shown a remarkable and smooth upward trend in the arrival of tourists. However, shortly after the military government assumed power in 1974, the growth of tourism was highly subjected to adverse political and socio-economic crises. This became evident when the tourism sector experienced a downward trend in its history, whereby the number of tourists steadily decreased from 1,267 in 1974 to 141 in 1977 in Bahir Dar and its surroundings and from 50,220 to 28,984 in 1977 at the national level. However, the seizure of power by a new government in 1991 brought about a relatively conducive environment for the growth of tourism which is evident in the adoption of free market, relative stability, and infrastructural development. Thus, this paper sheds light on the history of tourism and its challenges throughout the three consecutive Ethiopian regimes: the imperial, Derg, and EPRDF. This was done in the context of the changing political regimes in light of the political, economic, and ideological shifts. In order to realize the intended objectives, primary sources of information were collected through interviews and focus group discussions with tourists, experts, hotel managers, and tour guides. In addition, government reports from published and un-published sources were also consulted.

Keywords: Bahir Dar, Challenges, Ethiopia, Tourism, history

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 11-28 (Download PDF)

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