ADDIS ABEBA – At least 32,400 tourists visited Simien Mountain National Park during the 2018/19 Ethiopian fiscal year, its officials said.
The figure has increased by 10,000 from the preceding years.
During the fiscal year, the park generated over 40 million Birr from its visitors. Of these, about 33 million Birr has gone into the surrounding community in various ways, Abebaw Azanaw, the park ward, told The Daily Monitor.
The surge in the number of visitors has been recorded in a year that the park has been affected by weeks-long fierce fire. This part of the park is yet to recover from the impact of the fire fully, said Abebaw.
Apart from the latest fire-induced predicament, One of Ethiopia’s best tourist destination is still affected by the absence of infrastructure and facilities to accommodate visitors around the park, said the ward.
Insufficient hotel rooms for tourists, absence of a mobile network, electric power interruption, bumpy roads, and unavailability of mini toilets and cafes to accommodate tourists’ demand are among the huge challenges that the park is facing, said Abebaw.
“The park is missing a huge number of visitors who express their interest but put off by the absence of facilities and infrastructure,” said Abebaw.
Abebaw pinpointed on the need to create and build a strong sense of ownership among the public to protect the park and its riches. “That is still a critical issue to protect the park from fire incidents, grazing, and invasive species utilization,” he added.
This week, Heineken Breweries have moved to support the park known to house endemic mammals such as Walia Ibex.
Heineken signed a memorandum of understanding with Ethiopian wildlife conservative authority to provide support for Semen national park.
As the one of Walia’s brand holder for Heineken products, the company has to preserve the park in general and the Life of Walia in particular, said Fikdau Besha, Heineken external relation and sustainability manager.
Heineken has also launched a campaign dubbed as ‘Walia Saves Walia’ with a tree planting event on Wednesday.
According to Fikadu, Heineken is also providing uniforms and related materials that could be used for scouts in the park and constructing outpost for them.
Fikadu also said the company will also construct facilities such as school and hospital for communities living around the park.
By Sisay Sahlu
Photo Caption: A tourist at the first viewpoint on our Simien Mountains trek (Photo File/ATLAS & BOOTS)