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DIVERSIFYING TOURISM PRODUCTS: ASSESSING THE POTENTIAL OF COFFEE TOURISM IN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1212-03]
Ethiopia is the birthplace of both the coffee tree and coffee culture. Ethiopian wild forest coffee is the genetic root of all coffee. It is also the country’s most important export item. At the same time tourism is also booming in Ethiopia. Hence, the marriage of the two sectors has an irreplaceable role for the development of the country. In Ethiopia, coffee is more than just source of income or beverage; it is the spice of social cohesion. From tree to cup, coffee preparation in Ethiopia is accompanied by various cultures, performances and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation; therefore coffee became a part of being Ethiopian. Coffee is not just a drink but also a symbol of daily social activities, drinking it with other people is one of social significance. Over 4 million householders in Ethiopia are involved in the cultivation of the coffee plant. Moreover, the motto of Ethiopian tourism- “the Land of Origin” has been selected as Ethiopia is the origin coffee and human beings. Therefore, Ethiopia has great opportunity to be branded as a coffee tourism destination. However, the Ethiopia tourism industry has over the years relied only on cultural heritage and some selected parks. Linking coffee and coffee culture with tourism is lucrative business but the area has been marginalized. Other countries which later took coffee from Ethiopia like Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and African countries such as Uganda and Ivory Coast are promoting their tourism industry with coffee. Ethiopia, the “mother of coffee”, a land where wild coffees still exist on earth, is not utilizing the marriage of the two sectors. This paper therefore, explores the potential and feasibility of linking coffee to tourism in Ethiopia.