Ethiopia, one of the oldest civilizations in the world and quite possibly the cradle of mankind, has implemented an electronic visa program to promote tourism to the region. The Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs department officially launched the eVISA program on June 12, 2017.
Tourism to Ethiopia had plummeted in recent years following the violent border dispute in the 1990s with Eritrea, its former province. But by promoting its unique history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty, Ethiopian officials hope that the new eVISA program will encourage tourism to the East African nation.
How the Ethiopian eVisa works
The Ethiopian eVISA program will be similar to other electronic visa programs already in place in dozens of countries around the world. Citizens of the 39 eligible countries - a list that includes China, the United States, and most European countries - can submit and pay for their application online. Once approved, prospective visitors will receive an email that authorizes their travel to Ethiopia where they will get their passport stamped upon arrival in Addis Ababa.
The main aim of the eVISA program is to make it easier for tourists to enter Ethiopia. Because prospective visitors can complete the entire process online, the eVISA program saves tourists time and adds convenience, since there is no need to visit an Ethiopian consulate or embassy to pick up an approved visa.
Nationwide tourism initiative
As a further nationwide measure to complement the new eVISA system, Ethiopian authorities have also announced that they are partnering with Ethiopian Airlines, the nation’s flag carrier, to install the new system.
“We have been working together with Ethiopian Airlines for the effective implementation of eVISA facilities at Bole International Airport,” said Gebreyohannes Teklu, Director of the Main Department for Immigration & Nationality Affairs.
“Moreover, we have set up separate counters to process the visas of travelers under electronic travel authorization,” he elaborated.
Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, welcomes the launch of the eVISA program and hopes that it will foment tourism and encourage economic growth.
“This project is part of a new national initiative to transform the tourism sector in the country,” GebreMariam stated.
“The full commencement of the online visa application and issuance system will promote tourism, trade, and investment to the country. It will save time, energy, and cost for travelers to Ethiopia in addition to the simplicity and convenience that it facilitates,” he added.
Through this nationwide initiative, Ethiopia hopes to attract large numbers of tourists given the many sights that the country has to offer, includings its rock-hewn churches and well-preserved ancient ruins.