Djibouti has been making headlines recently, and the European Council of Tourism and Trade has taken notice.
The organization recently made the country its World Capital of Culture and Tourism and named its president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, an honoris causa member of the Global Academy of Tourism.
The country is gaining more attention as a top tourist destination after being named one of the top 10 places to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. “This award is proof that Djibouti has chosen the right path by making tourism a pillar of development,” said Guelleh. “Djibouti has opted for niche tourism, tourism which unites individuals, cultures, and civilizations. It is a tourism which plays an important role in cultural dialogue and in peaceful coexistence. It is a tourism which balances our development objectives with a requisite protection of our social, cultural and environmental heritage.”
There is a wealth of potential when it comes to tourism in the country. One of the major draws for travelers to Djibouti is its unique geological treasures and landscapes.
In the country’s long-term strategy, Vision Djibouti 2035, officials recognize tourism as a key sector for economic diversification. The plan gives the country a target of attracting 10 times the number of tourists it currently has within the next 10 years by playing to its strengths, of which the country has many.
Visitors will find an array of rare geological treasures such as salt lakes, extinct volcanoes, rift valleys, limestone chimneys spewing steam, basaltic plateaus and majestic canyons.
A highlight of travel to Djibouti is Lake Assal which, at an altitude of 153 meters below sea level, is the lowest point in Africa, and one of the lowest spots in the world. The salt lake is considered a national treasure and may soon be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visitors should also check out Tadjoura, located on the eastern coast of Africa. It is often referred to as La Ville Blanche because of its whitewashed houses and is home to a number of mosques. The waters off the coast, called the Gulf of Tadjoura, are ideal for snorkeling and diving and visitors can also swim with whale sharks.
Ali Sabieh is a rugged and rustic part of Africa, and wandering its narrow streets and alleyways, travelers will find markets and food stalls. While there is little tourism development, it is a great spot for adventure with access to windsurfing, challenging hikes and more.
Djibouti City is the capital of the country and its largest metropolis. It is located on the coast and visitors will want to experience the chaotic city as well as the nearby beaches such as Khor Ambado, known for black lava cliffs, abundant water sports, and beautiful sea views.
Visitors will also find high-end accommodation options. Top picks are the seaside Djibouti Palace Kempinski on the Gulf of Tadjoura and the Sheraton Djibouti Hotel, also located on the coast and close to Djibouti City.