Foreign Office warnings hamper Ethiopia growth

Attempts to raise Ethiopia’s profile as a tourist destination are being hampered by Foreign Office advice to avoid the country.

The warnings say Ethiopia is under threat of terrorism, and that Eritrean and Somali borders are prey to rogue conflict.

But the FCO is not advising against travel along north Ethiopia’s historic route, running from main tourist destinations including Bahir Dar, Gonder, Lalibela, Axum, the Rift Valley Lakes and the Omo Valley.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism said about 16,000 people visit the country from the UK each year, and that the most common incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in Ethiopia in 2007 was for the replacement of lost or stolen passports.

An Ethiopian Airlines senior official said the state-run company was in talks with the Ethiopian ambassador’s office to try to alter the FCO website so that users would not have to scroll down past the dramatic warnings to read that the well-worn historic route was safe for tourists.

Ethiopian Airlines is pouring thousand of pounds into supporting efforts to attract European tourists. The FCO has so far stood firm, saying it has a duty to inform UK citizens of dangers in any country.

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