Ethiopia: The world's best tourist destination a surprise package
|Addis Ababa Ethiopia|
The world's best tourist destination? It's not Spain, the US, or even New Zealand, but Ethiopia, according to the European Council on Tourism and Trade.The East African country, which suffered a series of famines in the 1980s, boasts some of the continent's most dramatic landscapes.
It was praised by the non-profit association of EU tourism organisations for its "excellent preservation of humanity landmarks".
The park is home to a number of endangered species, including the Ethiopian wolf and walia ibex.
Ethiopia also boasts the Danakil Depression, with its colourful sulphur and salt lakes.
Another attraction flagged up during the annual ceremony was the Fasil Ghebbi, the residence of the Ethiopian emperors during the 16th and 17th centuries.
In its application for the award, the Ethiopian government identified tourism as a key area if it is to tackle poverty.
"Ethiopia [has] a perfect record of promoting social-friendly tourism, and an ecological and poverty reduction strategy based on tourism," said European Council's Senator Ionel Agrigoraoiei.
The group clearly enjoys backing an underdog - last year's winner was Zimbabwe; in 2013 it was Laos.
But a few candidates that applied for consideration this year were typical tourist destinations - they included Nigeria, Algeria, Congo DRC, Jordan and Kazakhstan.
Just 20000 Britons visit Ethiopia annually, but Kuoni, the luxury tour operator, tipped it (alongside The Philippines and La Reunion) for a surge in visitors earlier this year.
Parts are off-limits, however. The Foreign Office advises against all travel to within 10km of the borders with Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Eritrea, and to parts of the country's north- and southeastern regions