Sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism
Alternative income generation through the development and promotion of ecotourism
Lake Tana is already one of the most popular tourist attractions of Ethiopia. Visitors from around the world come to see the beautiful historical churches and monasteries with their colourful frescoes and ancient artefacts. While tourism at Lake Tana is currently focused on the cultural heritage of the area, there is a significant potential for the development and promotion of ecotourism to encourage visitors to see the area's beautiful mosaic of interchanging landscapes in a sustainable way.
Lake Tana and its surrounding area are a wildlife haven... hippopotamuses, Nile monitors and crocodiles are the most obvious of the many species that can be seen by visitors. Rare birds such as the wattled crane, the lesser jacana and the endemic yellow-fronted parrot choose the marshes and shallow areas of the lake to make their home. Rich wetlands, church forests, abundant river deltas, islands and lakeshores as well as the spectacular Blue Nile Falls all encourage the visitor to discover more.
Ecotourism can create social and economic benefits for local communities , while ensuring the natural environment and traditional way of life are protected. The benefits are numerous. Ecotourism can create an appreciation for nature and biodiversity as well as an incentive to ensure its conservation. New jobs are created for local inhabitants within the tourism sector, bringing with them much needed additional income. This helps to strengthen the local communities in their ability to manage their natural resources in a sustainable way.
Working in close cooperation with the Bureau of Culture, Tourism and Parks Development (BoCTPD), the following activities are being implemented:
- Development of an ecotourism concept including an analysis of the area's potential for ecotourism and recommendations for activities and tours,
- Development of a business plan for sustainable tours and products including a marketing strategy and links to tour operators,
- Implementation of a study visit for staff of the BoCTPD and NABU Bahir Dar to learn about existing ecotourism schemes in other areas of Ethiopia, including the challenges the face, benefit-sharing mechanisms and the involvement of local stakeholders, as well as to gain knowledge from tour operators about potential market challenges,
- Improvement of the existing tourist information centre in Bahir Dar to make it more attractive, welcoming and convenient for tourists, to improve access to information and ecotourism packages, and to increase the visibility of the centre and increase the number of tourists who visit it and use its services,
- Development of information on the future BR for visitors, including a website and a map showing hiking trails,
- Capacity building for communities, tourism experts in public sector, boat captains and local tour guides,
- Promotion of community-based ecotourism projects such as wildlife and bird observation hides, camp sites and boat rentals.