The Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP) has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1978. The Park receives an average of 10,000 visitors per year from around the world, making it an important tourist destination for Ethiopia. However, due to enormous environmental damage caused by agricultural activities and grazing land expansion in and around the Park, SMNP was added the World Heritage in Danger list in 1996.
Therefore, JICA together with its key partners -the Ethiopian Wild Life Conservation Authority and the Amhara National Regional State Bureau of Culture, Tourism and Parks Development- designed and implemented the Project on Community Tourism Development through Public-Private Partnership in Simien Mountains National Park and Surrounding Areas (SIMCOT).
The overall goal of the SIMCOT Project is to improve the livelihood of the local community by promoting sustainable community tourism in the SMNP by providing alternative ways of livelihood and reducing the local community’s dependency on extractive agriculture related businesses in the park. The SIMCOT Project started in 2011 and is expected to end in 2014. JICA provided technical assistances of community tourism by crafting Destination Management and Development Planning, capacity building of local communities and tourism related organizations, product development (tourism products), marketing and promotion and network building.
The project is highly effective due to the Public-Private Partnership framework in which it operates under. Together the partnership works together to benefit the local community through sustainable community tourism and to remove the SMNP from the World Heritage in Danger List.