Government reforms to drive Ethiopia’s tourism industry

JLL, one of the world’s leading real estate investment and advisory firms, released its overview of the Hotel industry in Ethiopia. The report examines the factors that make Ethiopia a unique tourist destination as well as the impact of COVID-19 on tourism in the region.

As of March 2020, international arrivals in Ethiopia decreased by 35.5% year-on-year to 118,950 mainly due to decreased flights, as well as cancellations by Ethiopian Airlines, which flies to over 80 destinations worldwide from Addis Ababa. According to the report, the country’s tourism sector shows tremendous potential for growth given it is home to nine world heritage sites, as well as government measures to improve the investment landscape. This includes relaxed visa policies, enabling nationals as well as residents from the African Union to obtain visa’s on arrival, which saw the Africa Visa Index go up by 32 places to secure a top 20 position in 2019.



With a population of over 110 million, Ethiopia is said to have one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. It has experienced strong economic growth and is undergoing rapid political reforms as a result of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s initiatives for international cooperation, including historic peace with neighbouring Eritrea. In addition, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved $2.9 billion to finance Ethiopia’s Home Grown Economic Reform program, which aims to alleviate challenges faced by the economy. According to the report, these events have provided tailwinds that are expected to benefit the hotel sector, in particular.

“With domestic tourism likely to recover first following the pandemic, Ethiopia should tap into the domestic and regional market as a short-term solution to revive its tourism industry. With poor hotel infrastructure in major tourism destinations throughout the country, there are opportunities to develop hotels and lodges in these areas to attract domestic and international travelers,” commented David Desta, Associate, JLL Hotels and Hospitality group.

The report highlights that Addis Ababa will likely see an increase in corporate, NGO and diplomatic demand over the next few years. Ethiopia currently has upward of 21 internationally branded hotels under development which in theory could add around 4,300 rooms.

“The impact of COVID-19 in Addis Ababa has seen 88% of hotels either full or partially closed and the market will take some time to recover. The opening up of the economy represents the most significant opportunity to fuel this recovery, as this would increase the number of multinationals that are based in the country, and in doing so increase hotel demand,” says Wayne Godwin, Head of Hotel Advisory, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group.

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