EGU2020-841, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Inventory and Assessment of Geosites for Geotourism Development in the southeastern Lake Tana region, northwest Ethiopia

Getaneh Addis Tessema1,2, Jan van der Borg1, Amare Sewnet3, Anton van Rompaey1, Enyew Adgo4, Jan Nyssen5, Kerebih Asrese6, Steven Van Passel7, and Jean Poesen1
Getaneh Addis Tessema et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  • 2Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
  • 3Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
  • 4Department of Natural Resource Management, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
  • 5Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  • 6Department of Social Work, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
  • 7Department of Engineering Management, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium


Geotourism is a niche type of sustainable tourism which focuses on geological and geomorphological features of an area, and associated culture and biodiversity. Geosites are important resources for geotourism development. The southeastern Lake Tana region in Ethiopia possesses several geosites that are of interest to both the scientific community and tourists having a broad interest. The area is also part of an important economic corridor and tourist route in the country. Currently, only the Blue Nile Falls, Lake Tana and its island monasteries are being visited. The objective of this study is, therefore, to inventory geosites in the southeastern Lake Tana region and to assess their potential for geotourism development. To this end, a geosite inventory and assessment methodology was developed. The criteria, indicators and sub-indicators used for assessment were prepared based on a review of publications. The indicators used for assessing the potential of geosites are scientific, educational, scenic, recreational, protection, functional and ecological values. A first list of 114 potential geosites have been inventoried based on stakeholder interviews and a review of relevant documents in the study area. Further screening and clustering resulted in a final list of 61 geosites. Among the major newly proposed geosites are viewpoints; waterfalls; hot springs; a large flood plain; caves and cave churches; rock-hewn churches;  a shield volcano; lava tubes; and volcanic plugs, cones and columns. Quantitative assessment of the potential of these geosites revealed that clustered  geosites received relatively higher scientific, scenic and recreational value scores. For sustainable development of geotourism in the Lake Tana area, it is important to improve access to geosites, and establish visitor centers and accommodation facilities at selected sites.

Keywords Geoheritage . Sustainable development . Volcanic features . Lake . Waterfalls . Flood plain . Geotouristic valorization.

How to cite: Tessema, G. A., van der Borg, J., Sewnet, A., van Rompaey, A., Adgo, E., Nyssen, J., Asrese, K., Van Passel, S., and Poesen, J.: Inventory and Assessment of Geosites for Geotourism Development in the southeastern Lake Tana region, northwest Ethiopia, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-841,, 2019


Display file

Comments on the display

AC: Author Comment | CC: Community Comment | Report abuse

displays version 1 – uploaded on 22 Apr 2020
  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-841, Martin Bohle, 02 May 2020

    Thank you for the impressive collection of regional geosites! I wonder about the scatter shown in the graph that compares the sites. It looks as if 'no scenery' & 'no recreation' causes the lowest ratings (#24, #34) and 'high scientific value' causes the highest ratings (#2, #13) and second-highest ratings (#12, #23, #32). Furthermore, my visual inspection leaves me with the feeling that your different criteria are correlated. Are the criteria (statistically) mutually independent?  If I adjust (visually) for the two features that seem to determine 'extremes', the assessments cluster in the range '3 to 4'.  Did you find discernable features within this range? 

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Getaneh Addis Tessema, 07 May 2020

      Dear Martin Bohle,

      Thank you very much for the important question you raised.

      Two diagnostics (correlation matrix and variance inflation factor (VIF)) were run to assess multicollinearity (correlation of the variables/indicators).

      The correlation analysis results show that some of the indicators (variables) have moderate (r = 0.4-0.69) relationships. Scientific and recreational value,  scientific and added value, scenic and recreational, scenic and protection value all have r = 0.50; and recreational and added value have r = 0.51. The rest of the indicators have weak (r = 0.10-0.39) and negligible (r = 0.00-0.10) correlations. So, all the correlations are well below the threshold of r = 0.8 (Berry and Feldman, 1985), and do not create collinearity problem.

      Tests for multicollinearity using VIF indicate a very low level of multicollinearity as all the VIF results are less than 5. In our study, the maximum VIF = 2.4 for REC and the minimum VIF = 1.45 for FUN.

      So, we can take that though there is some degree of relationship between the indicators (variables), they are statistically mutually independent (i.e. multicollinearity is not a problem).

      If we adjust the outliers (at both lower and upper extremes) in scientific, scenic and recreational values (by replacing the outliers at both lower and upper extremes by the immediate values), 28 geosites (about 65%) lie in the range ‘3 to 4’. In the same way, 40 geosites (about 90%) fall in the range ‘3 to 5’.

      • CC5: Reply to AC1, Martin Bohle, 08 May 2020

        Thank you very much for sharing these details. Regards, Martin

  • CC2: Comment on EGU2020-841, Jan Boon (deceased), 06 May 2020

    Impressive study! I had never realized that geosites could be identified this way. A few questions: How many tourists could potentially visit the highest-ranked geosites? How many of the sites would need guides? How will the sites be organized and advertised? What do the local communities think of this?

    • AC2: Reply to CC2, Getaneh Addis Tessema, 07 May 2020

      Dear Jan Boon,

      Thank you very much for comments and questions.

      Two of the highest ranked geosites are Blue Nile Falls (geosite #2) and Lake Tana and its monasteries (geosite #13). Lake Tana has (island) monasteries, some of which date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. According to official data, in the years between 2007/8 and 2018/19, an average of over 28,000 international tourists per year visited Blue Nile Falls and/or Lake Tana and its monasteries. The carrying capacity of the geosites is not yet studied, but the area could host more tourists than this figure. Currently, there are three tour guide associations at three places: Bahir Dar City, Zegie peninsula and Tis Abay town, with 24, 28 and 25 members, respectively. There are no local guides at other geosites. Most other geosites in the study area are new, and do not have maps and other information for visiting. Hence, interested tourists need at least a pathfinder to see these geosites.

      How to organize and advertise the sites: our study is the first inventory of geosites in the study area. Hence, it can help in creating awareness for stakeholders. We are now in the first phase of the study, and are currently conducting further research for developing geotourism. Upon completion of the research, we will suggest policy guidelines for the development of geotourism in the study area.  

      The local community

      The perception of local communities is not yet investigated. But, empirical observation shows that those living around newly inventoried geosites want to benefit from the geosites around them.


      Those communities who live around Lake Tana and its monasteries get relatively better benefits than the ones around Blue Nile Falls. Communities around the Blue Nile Falls complain about lack of benefits from geotourism in the area.

      • CC4: Reply to AC2, Jan Boon (deceased), 08 May 2020

        Thank you. You are doing this very thoroughly. Why would the Blue Nile generate less benfits for the community?

        • AC4: Reply to CC4, Getaneh Addis Tessema, 08 May 2020

          Dear Jan Boon,

          Thank you for your question!

          The Blue Nile Falls is generating less benefits to the community living around it because there are limited activities the community engage in. The only main means they benefit is in tour guiding (there are 23 local tour guides) and one privately owned camping site. Though there are few souvenir sellers, their products are not destination-specific, and hence are of little interest for visitors.  In general, the ‘less benefit’ can be attributed to two main factors: lack of tourism product and service diversification, and the seasonality of the volume of the Blue Nile Falls. Water discharge to the Falls significantly reduces on average from January to May (due to lack of rain and diversion of water for hydropower).  When the water fall has little volume, there are few tourists traveling to the area.

          If you still have questions, you are most welcome!

          • CC6: Reply to AC4, Jan Boon (deceased), 08 May 2020

            Thank you.

  • CC3: Comment on EGU2020-841, Giuseppe Di Capua, 06 May 2020

    Very impressive presentation. Thank you. 

    The studied area is fantastic!

    I agree with comments by Jan Boon about feelings of local communities on geotourism activities and potential visitors to have an idea of possibile impact on environment and population. Are there already touristic structures to host visitors? 

    • AC3: Reply to CC3, Getaneh Addis Tessema, 07 May 2020

      Dear Giuseppe Di Capua,

      Thank you very much for your questions.

      Please see the reply to Jan Boon above in relation to geotourism and the local communities.

      Tourist facilities: (international) visitors can access the geosites from Bahir Dar City which has the necessary tourist facilities, including tourist standard accommodation establishments (for example there are ca. 10 star rated hotels). Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana and its monasteries are located close to Bahir Dar City (travel time of about 1 hour, one way), and are ‘easily’ accessible. Please note that these two geosites are already available in tourist itineraries of Northern Ethiopia (Historic route of Ethiopia). Though there are other small towns close to the geosites, they lack tourist standard facilities and services