The World Leader of Tourism is Here and He's From This Tiny Country

Baby deer near Lake Assal, Djibouti
Baby deer near Lake Assal, Djibouti | Zineb Boujrada / © Culture Trip
Zineb Boujrada

Content Writer & Media Producer

In a world of tourism giants, the new head of the European Council on Tourism and Trade has recently been revealed to the surprise of the world as the President of Djibouti. This tiny country has been making the news for its incredible touristic potential – here’s everything you need to know.

Why the President of Djibouti ?

The President of Djibouti has launched his vision for 2035 that proposes an integrated plan for the development of the country. And with its efforts since 2013 to revive the tourism sector, results are starting to show, as the country makes it to the top list of the fastest growing economies in the world in 2018. President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh’s developmental policies are said to have lifted Djibouti out of poverty, mainly by investing in infrastructure, namely the Doraleh port, the international tarmac of the airport of Djibouti, the Djibouti-Addis Ababa train; but also in capacity building and management strategies to help protect the natural and cultural heritage of the country while deviating to renewable energies. The President of Djibouti was consecrated as the leader of world tourism for the year of 2018, as he recognizes that culture and tourism are crucial factors to development and poverty alleviation.

This consecration means a lot to a country such as Djibouti – the honored title means that Djibouti will continue its efforts to reanimate the tourism sector and make it a priority. This will also mean that floods of direct investments will enter Djibouti, in turn meaning more businesses, more innovation and more jobs for the population of Djibouti.

President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh

Djibouti’s efforts to alleviate poverty and promote tourism

Africa is undoubtedly starting to regain its full glory, and is positioning itself as an incredible hub full of touristic opportunities for its diverse populations. Djibouti has been qualified by the most recent world bank report as number five on top of the world fastest growing economies in 2018. Djibouti’s master-plan for 2035 is being seriously implemented, and various measures have been taken so far to accelerate economic development.

The government of Djibouti is aiming at improving in several key areas that will ultimately place Djibouti at the top of African countries with great tourism potential.

Air travel

Besides being the second most important cross-point in maritime trade, Djibouti has been deploying efforts to enhance its air connectivity as well by launching cargo activities since 2015. State-owned companies Air Djibouti and Ambouli International Airport of Djibouti are operating in the Horn of Africa – Air Djibouti is already connecting some countries in the Middle East and Eastern Africa. You will probably board an Air Djibouti craft somewhere in Asia to Horn of Africa by the end of 2018. Today, more airlines operate in Djiboutian airspace: Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Air France, FlyDubai, Kenyan Airlines.


Many nationalities can access an entry visa on arrival at the Djibouti airport. This is an asset for Djibouti’s competitiveness in comparison with other countries in the region that are tougher to enter, especially for African nationals. According to the European Journal of Tourism Visa Openness 2018, Djibouti is placed second as the friendliest of African countries in terms of visa accessibility.


In a region full of turmoil, Djibouti managed to establish order and to keep peace among its two big ethnic groups throughout history, especially after signing the peace treaty with the Afar people in 1997. Hence, security is a core element in tourism promotion in Djibouti. A few miles from Yemen, Djibouti is an example of a country that enjoys stability that makes it a privileged spot for countries such as China, the USA and France to establish their respective military bases on its soil. Despite the Djibouti-Eritrea tensions over the borders, Djibouti seems to choose peaceful negotiations with neighbor Eritrea over military solutions.

One of the American Military Air Exercises, Djibouti


Stability points to a favorable investment climate. Djibouti is indeed an attractive hub for potential investors from the region and overseas. Countries like Eritrea, Ethiopia, the UK, UAE, China, Russia are more and more interested in doing business in Djibouti because of the continued efforts to improve investment regulations that will favor direct investment entries.

Eco-tourism and employment

Tourism assets are proven and the country has made efforts to overcome its shortage in achieving full potential of its touristic resources. Djibouti contains some epic wonders that every local is proud of, and foreigners are always stunned at how much beauty can be discovered in wild and virgin sites of the country. In this context, Djibouti launched a support program for entrepreneurs who have a vision of ecotourism in Djibouti that focuses on using environmentally sustainable solutions, including solar and wind powers. It is no surprise now to find eco-bungalows popping up in areas with high tourism potential such as Moucha Irlands or Sable Blanc. Djibouti hopes to generate 30,000 jobs by 2018 and contribute to more than 10% to the country’s GDP. Today, tourism represents only 2% of the GDP and employs 4,500 people.

Tourism in Djibouti is changing

During the last few years, hotels like the Kempinski and Sheraton have been prevalent in the job market in the hotel industry, and in turn with the accommodation on offer. Lately, different names have been starting to appear as relatively affordable accommodation options, including hostels and people who choose to become hosts on the Airbnb platform. These alternatives are starting to contribute to providing jobs for locals wishing to partake in the country’s tourism efforts.

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