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Ethiopia’s Lephis Among WTO’s Best Tourism Villages 2023

ADDIS ABABA – The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has named Ethiopia’s Lephis among the Best Tourism Villages 2023.

The accolade by UNWTO recognizes rural destinations that are leading in nurturing rural areas and preserving landscapes, local values, and culinary traditions annually.

This year, the UNWTO selected 54 ecotourism villages including Lephis Village.

Named after the Lephis Waterfall, the village with endemic bird and wildlife species is located in a designated ‘Gambo Forest Zone’ in Negele Arsi, Oromia.

There, Lephis Village stands out as a notable community tourism initiative, supported by the Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Alliance (ESTA).

The initiative has enabled residents to generate income from various sources such as the production and selling of handicrafts – run by women – and horse riding services.

“This accomplishment has not only led to the site’s prominent recognition but has also earned it acclaim at the national level,” the WTO says.

The selection of Lephis and 53 other ecovillages from around the world as the Best Tourism Villages 2023 was announced at the UNWTO General Assembly today.

“This initiative acknowledges villages that have harnessed tourism as a catalyst for their development and well-being,” WTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

UNWTO launched the Best Tourism Villages initiative in 2021 as part of its Tourism for Rural Development Program.

Ethiopia’s Choke Mountains Ecovillage was the first to make it into Best Tourism Villages list in 2021 followed by Wonchi in 2022.