From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Apr 12 2009 - 17:03:11 EDT
Eritrea takes a small step to develop its tourist potential
February 14, 2005
Assab - Eritrea will today inaugurate a hotel on its Red Sea coast, the
first step in an effort to boost tourism hampered by the effects of
But it is a very small step, since the hotel, a state property in
Gelalo, which is tucked between the port towns of Massawa and Assab, has
only 25 rooms.
Hagos Woldu, the tourism promotion director in the Eritrean tourism
ministry, said: "We built the hotel there because of the
under-development in the region.
"This coast has tourism potential with its landscape, and the Red Sea of
course. People can also go on camel safaris. Gelalo is one of the
hottest places on the planet."
A traveller to the region has the impression of being in Ireland, then
on Mongolia's steppes; grassy hills, savannas, ancient volcanoes and
sprawling lava fields, all unevenly distributed.
Meanwhile on Dese island, south of Massawa, a private investor has
started building another hotel. More were planned, Hagos said.
Poor infrastructure is a bottleneck to the ambition of reaping a tourism
"Accessing the coast is still difficult, but the authorities are working
to improve the road," Hagos added.
There are also plans to pave the road between Assab and Massawa, the two
well-off towns along the country's Red Sea coast, in three or four
An international airport would soon be opened at Massawa to ease travel
to this region, Hagos added, without giving a date. There is a domestic
airstrip at Assab.
But checkpoints and travel restriction in this country have stymied the
expansion of tourism. These measures are for "security reasons",
according to Hagos.
Since its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea last had a tourism
boom in 1996, when about 137 000 tourists visited the country.
A deadly border war from 1998 to 2000 with Ethiopia worsened the
sparsely-developed tourism sector. Asmara plans to revamp the port of
Assab. Addis Ababa decided to stop using the port, relocating to
The latest statistics show there were 80 000 tourists in 2003.