The Inside Ethiopia Tours family will certainly remember 2020. It has been a significant year, not just professionally but personally speaking. The COVID-19 pandemic also arrived to Ethiopia in March without return ticket and since then 2020 has been quite scary. Nevertheless, there was also time to smile. We would like to take this opportunity to take stock and talk about the current situation in Ethiopia. We can finally say goodbye to 2020 and announce the launch of our new website! We wish the best for the upcoming new year and we hope to be able to open Ethiopia’s doors in a safe way during this
damn new normal.
From heaven in Madrid-Fitur down to the hell of the global tourism downturn
We started fresh in January 2020, eager for a new year full of bookings and new achievements. We happily participated in Madrid-Fitur, where we were able to promote our business, meet with former clients and connect with new collaborators. We were packed and ready to fly to Berlin to attend ITB 2020, when we were told about the cancellation of the most important travel show in Europe due to the uncontrollable rise in COVID-19 cases. And that is when we realised about the extend of this new disease. Soon enough we were told to stay at home to help containing the spread of the virus, we learn how to properly wash our hands and our smiles were hidden behind those now essential face masks.
The first coronavirus case was detected back in March 14th and the virus soon found a place to stay also in Ethiopia. Although the figures of Coronavirus cases are slightly better than other countries, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health acted fast by adopting preventive measures. They used the local TV and radio stations as well as social media to educate the population about the importance on hand washing and the use of mask. They also try to encourage Ethiopians to practice social distance, a difficult task in a country where human contact is part of our DNA, not just when we share a plate of injera, but whenever we attend a religious festival or mass service.
In April 8th 2020, the Ethiopian Government declared the State of Emergency as a measure to prevent the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease. Some of the preventive actions included the closure of land borders and schools, freedom for thousands of prisoners to ease overcrowding, spraying main streets in the capital with disinfectant, and discouragement of large gatherings. At the same time, a mandatory 14 days quarantine was required for all those travellers arriving to Bole International Airport as final destination.
And that is when the nightmare began for Inside Ethiopia Tours: all our customers who had booked their trip with us on 2020 started to contact us to cancel and we stop having income overnight, just when we were about to receive our brand new vehicle. It was supposed to be the perfect additional asset for our company in order to complete our fleet and improve the quality of our services. Unfortunately, our office remained closed and we had to park our cars indefinitely.
Ethiopia is a country without any kind of subsidiary for small and medium businesses. Banks are short in hard currency and therefore we are unable to order international wire transfers and that causes delays on the refund of down payments. We are miraculously staying afloat with no engine or life vests and praying for this endless storm to go away. We hardly manage to pay for the office expenses and the salary of our employees, using the savings that we worked so hard for.
Starting in October 2020, the following measures have been announced by the Ethiopian Government:
- All international passengers above the age of ten, except transit travelers, arriving to Ethiopia shall bring a certificate of negative RT PCR test from the country he is coming from done up to 120 hours or five days before arriving in Ethiopia. After checking the traveler’s temperature and any COVID-19 symptoms at airport’s health control desk, his address shall be registered, and he has a duty to self-quarantine at home for seven days. Please note that passengers who have a certificate of negative COVID-19 RT PCR test are required to bring the printed copy of the same. Rapid diagnostic test (RDT antibody test) certificate will not be accepted.
- If any traveler arriving at the Bole International Airport shows any symptom of COVID-19, he or she shall be taken to one of the temporary isolation centres prepared by the government where he will obtain follow up in accordance with the COVID-19 medical manual
- Any person who is corona virus positive is prohibited from entering the country.
- Transit travellers arriving to Bole International Airport are not allowed to leave the airport and enter the city. For those passengers with a layover higher than 24 hours, self-quarantine at the designated hotel by the airline will be required.
In Inside Ethiopia Tours, we have implemented preventive measures in our office to make sure we help containing the spread of the COVID-19 disease. Daily disinfection of the office is required before opening time. All our staff members are required to wear a mask and use the hand-sanitising gel displayed at the entrance. Only two people are allowed to enter the office at the same time to make sure we can comply with the 2 meters social distance rule. We kindly encourage our customers to contact us at +25116721228 to get an appointment before visiting us.
The Tigray conflict
However, this pandemic has not been the only challenge Ethiopia had to face in 2020. The confrontation among the main ethnic groups in the country continues and therefore a social clash between the regional authorities in the Tigray region and the federal government led to an armed conflict in November 2020. Besides the declaration of the state of emergency for the upcoming 6 months, the Tigray region has suffered from electricity, telephone and Internet shutdowns; with hundreds of refugees running away towards South Sudan and the inevitable (and yet unknown) number of casualties as in any armed conflict.
At the moment, it is not advisable to travel anywhere in Tigray or near the region’s boarder. Nevertheless, it is safe to travel to most parts of the country and Ethiopian Airlines is resuming most of the connecting flights to the North. For further updated information, we encourage you to visit the US Embassy in Addis Ababa website. At Inside Ethiopia Tours, we hope this confrontation ends as soon as possible and we urge you to contact us anytime if you have any questions about the current situation and how this conflict may affect your future trips.
Inside Ethiopia Tours lights and shadows in 2020
It would not be fair to say that 2020 has been the worst year of our lives. Once again, we were awarded as one of 2020 Traveler’s choice tour operators in Ethiopia by TripAdvisor. We would like to thank our customers for their support during this difficult time, specially those who took time to check on us. We really appreciate it! On the other hand, we were blessed in May when our first daughter was born. Her name is Lia, which means “bearer of good news” and indeed they were. She has given us the strength we need to keep on fighting for our dream. We would love for her to be part of Inside Ethiopia Tours and since traveling and connecting with different cultures is in her blood, we are pretty sure she will soon be an Inside expert.
Unfortunately, just one month after our daughter’s birth, we had to say goodbye to a very special family member and we learn that life and death go hand in hand. Saying goodbye has been very hard but we hope there is a new star up in the sky guiding us towards a prosperous future full of health, peace and love.
Goodbye to 2020 and hello to the new insideethiopiatours.com
In spite of everything, we Africans are used to fighting against adversities and since we would rather stay positive, we have chosen to be proactive. Thus, we decided to take this time to train ourselves in sustainable tourism. Something we have certainly learned during this pandemic is to take care of our planet. We have also worked hard in developing a new website with more sections and tour options and the possibility to easily request tailor-made tours. It has been a long road but we are very pleased with the result and we hope you like it too. We would like to thank the excellent work of our web designer, Pablo Miki.
We hope 2021 is the year of renovation with a new vaccine that brings back our smiles, a more environmentally conscious world and a prosperous and peaceful Ethiopia.
We finally say goodbye to 2020 and we wish you all a happy 2021.
Stay safe 😉
Binyam y Amanda