The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has awarded Ethiopia with the Safe Travels Stamp last week. This recognition is a tool created by the WTTC in May 2020 after the Covid-19 crisis. The Safe Travel Stamp helps travellers to identify destinations and businesses around the world which have adopted the global standardised health and hygiene protocols to help prevent the spread of the pandemic. This is an important step forward for Ethiopian Tourism recovery, specially during this uncertain time. Along with the COVID-19 crisis and the consequences of the armed conflict in the Tigray region that started back in November 2020, the question everybody keeps asking us is: is it safe to travel to Ethiopia in 2021? And this is what we can answer at the moment.
Ethiopia, awarded with the Safe and Travel Stamp by WTTC
The World Travel and Tourism Council was founded in 1990 by a group of tourism industry Chairs and CEOs. Its mission is to maximise the inclusive and sustainable growth potential of the Travel & Tourism sector by partnering with governments, destinations, communities, and other stakeholders to drive economic development, create jobs, reduce poverty, security, and understanding in our world. This international organisation has helped to raise awareness of the economic contribution of tourism and it continues to feature heavily in the media and in Governments.
After the unprecedented economic and social crisis that affected the Travel and Tourism sector, the WTTC decided to take action and enhanced international coordination to adopt global travel policies in order to facilitate international travel. Under the leadership of the G20, the global Travel & Tourism private sector was asked to put together a plan to support the recovery of the sector and bring back 100 million jobs. And that is why the Safe and Travel Stamp was created.
According to the WTTC, the Safe and Travel Stamp “will allow travellers to recognise governments and companies around the world which have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols – so consumers can experience ‘Safe Travels’.” Therefore, eligible companies such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, attractions, short term rentals, car rentals, outdoor shopping, transportation and airports, will be able to use the stamp once the health and hygiene protocols, outlined by WTTC, have been implemented.
Thanks to the measures promoted by the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism back in 2020, Ethiopia has been able to safely open its borders to international visitors and ensure safety for residents, travellers and workers in the tourism value chain. Along with other 12 African countries, Ethiopia has just been recognised as one of the Safe Travels country.
The protocols implemented by the Ethiopian Government were designed following the guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and taking best practices from WTTC’s members into account.
Covid-19 travel regulations in Ethiopia
We said Goodbye to 2020 by listing the current travel regulations in Ethiopia. The restrictions have not changed since then and it is still mandatory to hold a medical certificate with a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) RT-PCR test result. The test has must be taken at most 120 hours (5 days) before arrival. This certificate must be shown during the check-in at the departure and during the health check-up controls upon arrival. We highly advice you to check IATA’s interactive map on Covid-19 travel regulations to find out more on the restrictions for each destinations.
We know some people may be unwilling to take a RT-PCR test before travelling. Unfortunately, most airlines are refusing passengers to board if they do not hold the test so please check carefully the airlines protocols before booking your international flight. On the other hand, you may need a RT-PCR test when flying from Ethiopia to an international destination. If that is the case, please find below a list of approved COVID-19 PCR Test laboratories in Addis Ababa:
1.Ethiopian Public Health Institute
2.Addis Ababa Public Health Research and Referral Laboratory
3.Armed Forces Hospital
4.Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute
5.Black Lion Hospital- AAU Microbiology lab
10.Addis Ababa Silk Road Hospital
11.International Clinical Laboratories
13.American Medical Center
14.Wudassie Diagnostic Center
16.Hallelujah General Hospital
17.Arsho Medical Laboratory
18.Amin General Hospital
19.Washington Medical Center
20.MCM General Hospital
21.ICMC General Hospital
22.Legehare General Hospital
Inside Ethiopia Tours safe travel protocol
At Inside Ethiopia Tours, we are actively working to make sure we comply with all the safety and hygiene protocols and ensure our visitors to stay safe during their visit to Ethiopia. Therefore, we are currently working on the following objectives:
- Ensure daily disinfection and cleaning of our office and vehicles is implemented before opening time/start of the tour
- Implement protocols to minimise physical contact by allowing only two people to enter the office at the same time and keeping 2 meters distance
- Provide our staff members with the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as face masks and gloves
- Work with our suppliers and partners, including restaurants, hotels, national parks, transport partners and venues to make sure they follow health and hygiene protocols and guidelines to protect our guests
Please note that these protocols may vary as new information becomes available about COVID-19. We will keep you updated about any change in the guidelines or protocols. For further information do not hesitate to contact us at +25116721228 or +251911620989.
Tigray crisis: new routes to ensure safer tours
In our previous post, we explained how the armed conflict in the Tigray region was also affecting tourism, specially in the Northern part of the country. The current situation in the North is still uncertain since we do not know official data about the consequence of the conflict. Latest news are not very encouraging: thousands of people have been displaced and there is lack of food and medicines. One of the most affected areas is the city of Mekele as well as the historical city of Axum.
As a result, we are working with our local agents in the Tigray region to design new safer itineraries. At the moment, it is better not to travel to Mekele or Axum. However, it is still possible to visito most of the key destinations of the Historical Route such as Bahir Dar, Gondar and Lalibela. On the other hand, it is not safe to visit the Danakil through Mekele. Therefore, the new route starts in Semera. Please check out the new route in this link. We highly recommend you to contact us before planning to travel anywhere near the border with the Tigray region.
The Ethiopian new normal
We are not sure how 2021 is going to be in terms of tourism yet. What we know is that Ethiopia seems to have forgotten there is a global pandemic. In fact, we have jus been to Lalibela during St. George’s Day and we were practically the only ones wearing a face mask and trying to keep the distance. In such a faithful country, it is very difficult to prevent people from staying at home during religious festivals. Whoever watches this video would think it was taken two years ago but the reality is it was just filmed two weeks ago!
The figures in Ethiopia are still less alarming than in other countries. We still do not understand how come our country is not suffering as other destinations when people seem to live a normal life. Some experts have pointed out the weather, others believe it is related to the high altitude. Even they have said there could be a connection with the Ethiopian race. We are not experts on the issue and that is why we do not want to lower our guard. We will keep taking preventive measures to ensure a safer environment, hoping the vaccination process has a positive impact so we can start planning trips and social gatherings as we used to.
We are aware of how tricky it is to state that it is safe to travel to Ethiopia in 2021. There is not a 100% safe place in the world nowadays. There are certain things we can not control. We can not prevent pandemics, earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks or even ethnic clashes. What we can do is to take preventive actions and that is why Ethiopia got the Safe Travel Stamp. Inside Ethiopia Tours will keep working hard to make sure you can all visit our beautiful country.
We encourage you to contact us anytime for further information related to safety and travel restrictions in Ethiopia.