Ethiopia Says Tourists Are Free To Roam Despite State Of Emergency

Written by Kevin Mwanza

Ethiopia has announced that tourists are not barred from travelling across the nation in a bid to boost its tourist numbers; just days after the U.S. government issued a travel advisory following the declaration of a six-month state of emergency by the horn of Africa nation.

There have been fears that foreigners to the nation may face reprisals from security forces for violating the state-sanctioned decree.

All diplomats are barred from travelling more than 25 miles outside the capital, Addis Ababa under the current curfew that the government imposed in a bid to control the Oromia protests.

“The directive is not applicable to foreign tourists who come to visit tourist destinations. They can travel from place to place freely as usual,” Fana Broadcasting Corporation quoted Getachew Ambaye, the country’s Attorney General.

The U.S issued a second travel advisory against its East African ally, barely two weeks after the declaration of the state of emergency.

The American government had issued the first advisory in August after protesters in Oromia state killed a researcher from the University of California.

The violence has adversely hurt tourism prospects in the nation where analysts had predicted tourist numbers to hit the one million mark for the first time, surpassing about 900,000 who visited last year, Ethiopia Online reported.

Ethiopia has nine heritage sited classified by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), ranking top in Africa alongside Morocco.

Protesters vandalized Esmeralda Farms Nederland, a Dutch-owned flower farm alongside other farms owned by foreigners in Bahir Dar, Amhara last month.

They also attacked a Dangote Cement plant in Ada Berga, Oromia state in revenge attacks after security forces opened fire on thousands of religious celebrants who attended the annual Irreecha festival earlier this month in Bishoftu, Oromia Economist reported.

The Oromo and Amharics, the two biggest tribes in the nation have been protesting against economic and political marginalization by successive regimes.

They started the protests in November last year. At least 500 people have been killed, according to data by Human Rights Watch.