Religious Tourism Development: The Case of Lalibela Town, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

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The overall significance of tourism in general and religious tourism in particular has got recognition from different scholars and organizations. However, its development mainly in Africa has faced numerous challenges. Ethiopia is unique and sacred in Africa for the ancient two monotheistic world religions namely Islam and Christianity. The existence of the ancient religions together with traditional African beliefs and their spiritual elements, made Ethiopia most preferable religious tourism destination in Africa. One of the ample religious sites of the country, Lalibela town, is the study area. The objectives of this study entitled with 'Religious Tourism Development: The case of Lalibela town Amhara region, Ethiopia' are identifying the religious tourism development challenges and opportunities, assessing mechanisms that help to promote opportunities and minimize the challenges of religious tourism development, Analyzing the ways in which religious tourism can serve as a tool in conserving heritages, empowe ring communities and bringing sustainable development. The study is hoth qualitative and quantitative in its design. Interview, questionnaire non participant observation, and document analysis are the mail! data gathering tools used in this study. The quantitative data collected were analyzed using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Science) and presented through tables, graphs and charts where as the qualitative information were precisely narrated. Accordingly, the findings of the study demonstrated that the town of Lalibela is one of the most impressive religious tourism destinations in Ethiopia. The town is endowed with ample religious attributes. However, there are also challenges influencing the development of the site as the most successful religious tourism destination in the country. These challenges of religious tourism development in Lalibe/a town are properly identified in this study. Thus, minimization or alleviation of all identified challenges and effective promotion and utilization of opportunities with proper involvement of the local community would enahle religious tourism to be an effective instrument for local community empmverment, heritage conservation and sustainable development in the town as well as the country at larg



Awareness, Challenges, Local community, Monotheistic, Opportunities, Religious Heritage, Religiolls Tourism, Sacred, Sustainable development