Ethiopia was designated as the World Finest supreme Tourist Destination for 2015 and as the Favorite Cultural Destination in 2015 by European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT). Also, Prime Minister Hailemariam was also chosen as World Leader of Tourism and as member of European Tourism Academy. The titles were presented to Prime Minister Hailemariam Ethiopia, on July 9, at the National Palace.
Ethiopia was selected by the unanimous vote of the representatives of 28 countries on the General Assembly of the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT). The representatives evaluated the list of 31 candidate countries for World Best Tourist Destination for 2015 award before choosing Ethiopia to be the winner.
The award is the highest honor to be awarded for a country for achievements in tourism. The award is offered to countries that are complying with United Nations Tourism Division, UNESCO and ECTT principles on fair tourism, ethical tourism and safety standards and historic preservation of cultural sites. South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Trinidad and Tobago, Laos and Zimbabwe were the last five winners since 2010.
The impact of the award is massive as the 2014 award winner, Zimbabwe, which become the most sought after destination and the number one country in Africa, in term of tourism growth for last year. Laos, winner of the 2013 award also crossed the 3 million-tourist benchmark, surpassing all the countries in the region.
In his address presenting the report for the 2015 designation for Ethiopia, Professor Dr. Anton Caragea, ECTT President, has stated the reasons for the selection of Ethiopia as follows:
Today, the Government of Ethiopia is recognizing the importance of tourism as a key facilitator for the country development and international promotion, creating exemplary structures like Tourism Transformation Council, investing in infrastructure and capacity building, creating a special team under Your Excellency leadership for destination promotion and management and protecting the cultural, natural and historical patrimony of the country.
In his report, the president of the council detailed the major reasons for the selection of Ethiopia:
The excellent preservation of humanity landmarks such as: ruins of the city of Aksum- the heart of ancient Ethiopia, FasilGhebbi- the residence of the Ethiopian emperors during the 16th and 17th century, HararJugol- 82 mosques, 102 shrines, and unique interior design in the townhouses, Lalibela- holy site encompassing eleven medieval stone carved churches from the 13th century, Konso Cultural Landscape (containing 55 kilometers of stonewalled terraces and fortified settlements), Lower Valley of the Awash-where humanity made his first steps and where was found the Eva of all mankind-Lucy fossil’s, Lower Valley of the Omo also containing fragments pertaining to early humanity development and the fossils of Homo Gracilis.All this sites where recognized as being of world significance and registered as UNESCO World heritage monuments.
New prominent landmarks are added such as: Sheik Hussein Religious, Cultural and Historical Site, MelkaKunture- Paleolithic site in the upper Awash Valley, Gedeo Cultural and Natural Landscape, Bale Mountains National Park, Sof Omar Cave- the longest cave in Ethiopia at 15.1 kilometres long; and the longest system of caves in Africa-sacred for Islam and for local Oromo population.