By Tewodros Kassa
Ethiopia becomes in the top list of international tourists. Reliable peace and stability, luxurious touristic services, wondering nature, attractive endemic animals [Walia Ibex, Red Fox, Chilada Baboon], Africa’s largest UNESCO registered tangible and intangible cultural heritages as well as hospitable and friendly society make the country preferable tourists destination.
“Last fiscal year, 886,897 tourists visited the country and 3,320,542,368 USD generated, while 485,806 tourists visited the country and 1,818,857,664 USD generated this fiscal half year only,” said Culture and Tourism Ministry Public and International Relations Director Gezahagn Abate.
Currently, the Ministry is working strenuously in coordination with sector actors targeting to boost the nation’s gain from untapped tourism industry.
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Gezahagn emphasized that the number of tourists coming to the country is increasing from time to time following the improving tourists services rendered.
“In addition to the natural tourists endowments of the country, other positive factors are catalyzing the sector which contributed to tourists’ inflow increment. “Among these: active engagements and feasible policies to the sector by the government, advancements in star hotels and tourist serving organizations and active coordination with private sector actors,” he said.
While assuming competitiveness in the tourism industry, prioritizing and leading the sector with well trained professionals is also a plus to the sector.
Facilitating ways to tap the immense tourists’ attractions potentials of the country is fundamental to generate more from the sector. Here the expanding of the Ethiopian airlines’ destinations worldwide could be a great potential to the country’s excelling tourism. The availability of brand transportation services by the Ethiopian attracts more tourists’ inflow to the country even to the East Africa easily.
Destinations such as ancient historical places, national parks, Semien Mountains and Tigray highlands, water based Tana monasteries and others are the leading hotspots of the country.
According to him, low local visiting culture, awareness to the sector and promotion works and lack of competent professionals are the sector’s bottlenecks.
For his part, Ethiopian Tourism Organization Public Relations and communications Director Getnet Yigzaw said that the organization is doing marketing and promotion as well as new tourist destinations development to boost the nation’s gain from the tourism sector. “The new tourism brand fits with the country and it witnesses greater marketing and promotion to the country’s diversified endowments,” he added.
Being the leading from Africa with UNSECO inscribed tangible and intangible heritages, the nation has not yet gained more from the tourism industry, according to him.
Currently, the organization is undertaking various measures in promoting the nation’s ancient civilization footprints and developing new tourists’ destinations across the country.
Getnet underlined that as part of promoting the new brand, the organization has been participating in international trade fairs, providing training to State Tourism Bureau Heads and sector practitioners on Ethiopian tourism marketing and branding strategy
Accordingly, the nation has set to boost its tourism revenue to cover a tangible share to its GDP and utilizing more from its longstanding and huge natural and human-made tourists’ destinations.
To this end, the National Tourism Transformation Council (NTTC), tourism board and the Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO) have been established and have become functional. Marketing and promotional activities have been widely carried out to enable both domestic and foreign tourists visit the country’s tourist attraction areas. In order to improve service delivery related to tourism, supervision and certification activities have been undertaken as per the plan and this has helped improve service provision. Criteria have been developed to establish rankings for hotels across the country and accordingly 206 hotels have been graded in Addis Ababa and Oromia State. It was planned to increase the number of tourists to more than a million.
And the tourism sector has contributed enormously to foreign currency generation and employment creation.