Gebeta Lehager Initiative Brings New Dawn for Ethiopia's Tourism

Jan 13 , 2024
By Asrat Begashaw

The enterprising "Gebeta Lehager" project marks a significant stride in transforming Ethiopia's tourism industry. The inauguration of several tourist destinations, including Koysha Halala Kella and Chebera Churchura National Park's Elephant Paw Lodge, is an illustration of the government’s commitment to inclusive tourism. The initiative not only conserves natural wonders but also uplifts the lives of local communities.

The progress in tourism development is at an exciting crossroads, with isolated communities now becoming accessible, bridging the urban-rural divide. The impact of tourism on these communities extends beyond the economy, encouraging cultural exchange and fostering a sense of interconnectedness.

The establishment of Wenchi Lake as the first eco-lodge represents a major shift towards sustainable tourism. It integrates local farmers into the tourism experience, showcasing the authenticity of rural life and encouraging community engagement. By opening their homes and offering traditional meals, the farmers become active participants in the tourism value chain, enhancing their economic well-being.

The eco-lodge demonstrates how responsible tourism can redefine traditional development paths, attracting visitors and empowering local communities as guardians of their cultural and environmental heritage. The new tourist destinations also act as catalysts for change in the fight against poverty and promoting sustainable economic growth. By building access roads to remote destinations, tourist sites, national parks, and marginalised communities, the "Gebeta Lehager" initiative, championed by Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is unlocking new opportunities.

One of the primary challenges to tourism growth in remote areas has been infrastructure inadequacies. However, a notable shift is occurring. The emergence of hotels, restaurants, recreation centres, and essential amenities transforms once-neglected regions into vibrant tourist hubs. This creates new employment opportunities and triggers a ripple effect of economic prosperity.

Tourist services, a vital component of any thriving tourism destination, are being prioritised. From guided tours to cultural experiences, these services enhance the visitor experience and generate income for residents. The construction of proper sanitation facilities is underway, promising a more comfortable and hygienic experience for tourists and locals. It is a step forward in addressing basic facility concerns like restrooms and washrooms.

The future holds more opportunities, progress, and empowerment. Although the journey may be gradual, each new development loosens the shackles of poverty, positioning tourism as a force for positive change. Yet, as tourism development unfolds, it is clear that this is just the beginning.

There remain persistent challenges. The traditional approaches to tourism development have not fully addressed the industry's complexities. These challenges extend beyond destination development to include deficiencies in marketing and promotional efforts. There is a need to broaden engagement with local tourist demographics and prioritise safety and security concerns, and transportation, potential deterrents for international and domestic travellers.

Addressing issues within tour operations and enhancing the quality of tour guides is critical for strengthening the tourism sector. By acknowledging and addressing these multifaceted aspects, Ethiopia can build a more resilient tourism industry.

The "Gebeta Lehager" project is a significant milestone towards sustainable tourism. It brings economic benefits and promotes cultural preservation and community empowerment. The initiative's approach to developing infrastructure and integrating local communities into the tourism value chain sets a precedent for seeking to harness tourism as a tool for development and poverty alleviation. The path forward requires a nuanced understanding of the challenges and a comprehensive strategy to overcome them, ensuring a sustainable and prosperous future for Ethiopia's tourism industry.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 13,2024 [ VOL 24 , NO 1237]

Asrat Begashaw, works in the aviation industry. He is passionate about tourism and can be reached at

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