By Kidane Tekle
I read, in Madote.com, the article written by Stephen Lioy on “Should Eritrea be on your horizon?” The article outlines a major point, which is quoted below.
“Despite a wealth of archaeological ruins, stunning Red Sea coastline, and one of the world’s greatest concentrations of largely forgotten art deco architecture, the small country of Eritrea on the Horn of Africa hasn’t received much attention in tourism circles. But that is about to change.”
This interesting article inspired me to make an in-depth analysis on the subject matter and write this article albeit there is some information gap in the paper. It is not written based on ﬁeld study and observation but solely based on secondary information, that is what is found googling. Hence, it is initiated with an intent to present the tourism potential of Eritrea, which has been downplayed due to either the 30 year war of independence or the border war with Ethiopia during the 1997-2001. The United Nations Sanctions and the Ethiopia’s pursuing of a ‘no war and no peace’ stance have their toll in thwarting the industry. The ‘no ﬂy zone’ has, also, its negative impact.
The presence of large numbers of land mines, and the continued tensions that ﬂare up between Eritrea and Ethiopia have deterred the development of a tourist industry in Eritrea. Not very many tourists came during the last two decades and the revenue generated from this sector was very minimal as compared to many countries. Situation has started recently to be better as mentioned in the Stephen’s article. Peace accord was reached between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Flight has opened between the two countries and the ‘no ﬂy zone’ is no more existing on contrary to what Stephen mentioned in his article. Agreement of cooperation was made between Ethiopian and Eritrean Airlines. Flight from any corner of the world is now possible to Eritrea.
The tourist potential of Eritrea is big and has to be harnessed with conducive services in place and by taking commensurate action. The country has great tourist destinations as there are places of interest with historical signiﬁcance and natural attraction. The range is wide. That of Eritrea is a kind of interest to any tourist as it makes one march through time from ancient civilization to contemporary history. I put below some of the best destination areas in Eritrea to visit and I believe that they are no less than the most astonished and regularly visited tourist attraction places of the earth.
|Warthogs in Filfil Solomona, Eritrea - Credit: Natalie E. Brown|
The Eritrean people are very deeply rooted with religious up-binging. This is what they transcending the image of God in them. They may be poor in materiality but rich spiritually. Different religions were and still practiced in Eritrea.
Judaism is thought to have existed as an important religion in Eritrea and Ethiopia before Christianity became the ofﬁcial religion of the Kingdom of Aksum (today's Ethiopia and Eritrea) in the early 4th century AD.
Jews ﬁrst settled in Eritrea in the late 19th century, emigrating from Yemen. Many Jews came to the country in search of economic and commercial opportunities. In 1905, the Asmara Hebrew Congregation was formed. During the 1930s, many Jews arrived in Eritrea ﬂeeing Nazi persecution in Europe.
Eritrea was one of the ﬁrst Christian countries in the world having ofﬁcially adopted Christianity in the 4th century. At the same time, it was the ﬁrst Muslim settlements in Africa , where a group of Muslims facing persecution in Mecca travelled through modern day Eritrea. Followers of the Prophet Mohammed traveled to the Eritrean coast in 615 AD to establish relations with Adulis authorities and seek protection for their new faith. One of the historical sites in Eritrea is the 500 year old Sheikh Hanaﬁ Mosque in Massawa, which is presented in para 2.9 below.
2. Tourist Attractions/Destinations:
|A herd of 93 elephants in Gash Barka, Eritrea|
Having said the background information in its history, it is imperative to look the situation now. It is striving coming out of the quagmire of war of independence and the border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia held from 1997 to 2001. Peace has now prevailed in both Eritrea and Ethiopia subsequent to the acceptance by Ethiopia of the ﬁnal and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC.)
It is very peaceful and going to any corner of Eritrea, one faces smiles and greetings from the friendly people. You can wander around even during the night times in the cities and no one faces any sort of a problem. There is no burglary or pickpocket.
Whether you bask in the colonial splendor of the capital, Asmara, or explore ancient ruins on one of the virgin islands in the country's many Red Sea archipelagos, Eritrea is a country that would very much be worth visiting. Just imagine ﬁnding yourself in a place where different civilizations ﬂourish. Think about the exploration of the Punt land and the reﬂection of Turkish and Egyptian remnants of buildings still standing especially in Massawa. The art deco buildings in Asmara and the steam engine railway built by the Italians are of a major scenes not to be missed visiting and enjoying. If you are a little adventurer, you can visit Nakfa where bitter battles were fought with Ethiopia.
Let me walk you through the different scenarios and believe that they will of high interest to you and visiting them in person, of course, will give you get ﬁrst-hand experience. The warm season in Eritrea runs from June to September, with a cooler season from October to May. Different locations in the country experience different temperatures. In the lowlands temperatures tend to be warmer. This is particularly true of the Dankalia region, which is quite warm and has almost no rainfall.
This is the time to tour Eritrea. All tourists of different walk of life and nationalities are also welcomed to Eritrea and enjoy their visits. I also propose all Eritreans to visit their country’s attractions and historical sites. They are stunning and worth a life history memory.
2. 1 The Land of Punt:
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