Ethiopia's new regime encourages more visitors

The extraordinary rise of Ethiopia as a destination and a transfer hub for long-haul travel to Sub-Saharan Africa has been revealed in the latest findings from ForwardKeys which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million flight booking transactions a day.

The data shows that Addis Ababa (Ethiopia’s capital) has grown its volume of international transfer passengers to Sub-Saharan Africa, five years in a row (2013-17). It also highlights that Addis Ababa’s Bole airport, which is currently being upgraded with a new terminal, at the cost of $345m, has overtaken Dubai as the leading gateway to the region, based on this measure.

The findings were released by ForwardKeys during a presentation by Olivier Ponti, Vice-President, Insights, at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Africa Leaders Forum in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
At least some of Ethiopia’s increase in international flight bookings is being attributed to new-found confidence in the wake of reforms carried out by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he took office in April. These include signing a peace deal with Eritrea in July, a new e-visa policy introduced in June, which allows all international visitors to apply for a visa on line and a promise to open Ethiopia’s markets to private investment.
International bookings for Ethiopia, for the period from this November to January next year, are ahead by more than 40% on the same period in 2017 – well ahead of all other destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Whilst visitors to Ethiopia and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa are coming from across the globe, Europe dominates as a source market, according to the ForwardKeys findings; it has grown by 4% since the start of the year. By contrast, growth in visitors from the Asia Pacific region is sluggish, just up by 1% since the start of the year.