Simien Mountain Park experiences 52% drop in visitors

The recent political protests in Gonder have directly impacted the tourism revenue of Simien Mountains Park as the number of people visiting the attraction has gone down dramatically.

Travel warnings have led people to be more cautious about visiting the country so places like Dashen Mountains have seen less traffic and there have been less people coming to see the Walia Ibex and gelada baboon.

According to a report from Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP), 5,119 tourists visited the attraction over the last six months. That is a 52 percent drop from last year. Then more than 25,000 visitors saw the park which brought in 25 million birr to the community and government. In the first half of this fiscal year the park took in six million birr. Things seem to be improving slightly but hotels are still reporting less occupancy than last year.

Speaking to Capital, Aznaw Kefyalew senior tourism officer at SMNP said many people have given up working in tourism and are trying to find new work.

“The number of tourists is not like before. The impact of the protests is still affecting the income of people who work in the tourism industry so some people have left their jobs to find other types of work.”

He said that things have been improving since last month.

“Now we are in peace and tourists are coming and more than 2,000  people visited the park in the month of February which makes us hopeful that we can regain our previous status,” he said.

Hotel and lodge owners said the impact of the previous political protests caused their hotel room occupancy to drop below 30 percent.

Shifraw Asrat, owner of Limalimo Lodge said his room occupancy level has dropped 60 percent. He added that before the protests their rooms were fully occupied.

Currently there are two lodges, namely Simien and Limalimo and six hotels; Semen Park, Imet Gogo, Jase Mine, Sona, Jaint Lobilia and Land Escape in the park.

Simien Mountains National Park which covers 420 km square is one of the national parks of Ethiopia. Located in the Semien (North) Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, its territory covers the Simien Mountains and includes Ras Dashan, the highest point in Ethiopia. It is home to a number of endangered species, including the Ethiopian wolf and the Walia Ibex, a wild goat found nowhere else in the world. The gelada baboon and the caracal, a cat, also occur within the Simien Mountains. More than 50 species of birds inhabit the park.