Destination area development is decisive to increase tourist inflow
Ethiopia is a country endowed with enormous untapped tourist attractions. The country has been devoted to get benefit out of tourism sector through developing tourist destination areas. Of course, destination areas by themselves have made the country the most preferable tourist attraction sites in the world by 2015. What if the country invest more capital to develop infrastructure in these areas?
Considering its importance, the incumbent has given attention to the sector in general and destination areas development in particular.
The establishment of Tourism Council, coining the new tourism brand- “Land of Origins,” infrastructural developments in destination areas and various promotional works are among others efforts made by the government to further exploit the sector.
But scholars believed that destination areas protection and development task should not be left to the government alone. Rather the stockholders should also invest in the area to get benefit out of the sector.
Dr. Ayalew Sisay tourism expert said that taking the lead in registering heritages from Africa is not as such a big deal for Ethiopia compared to the immense tourism potential it has. Blessed with mixed attractions and cultural values, many more attractions for sure could be a grace for UNESCO prestigious list.
Besides, registering heritages on UNESCO list would help attract many more tourists and enable the country attract sizable tourists. He said it would be easy to solicit funds for the conservation, protection and development of tourist attraction areas.
Indeed, the government has much responsibility to conserve, protect and manage these attraction areas.
Further more it is entitled to take care of the resource and the values along with the community so that there would not be much more freedom to undertake any activities that would endanger the heritages as the international community has its own stake.
Ethiopian Tourism Organization has a mandate to enhance the benefits of tourism in a sustainable and competitive manner by mobilizing and providing leadership to the tourism sector and stakeholders towards tourism destination development and marketing.
The Agency has recently proclaimed that it has been striving to develop tourist destination areas in a bid to increase tourist inflow. Providing design development support to investors showing tendency to engage in destination areas development is also the area which it works aggressively, according to Chirenet Tilahun Tourist Destination Areas Development Director.
Indicating that all the Ethiopian parks have no information center that provides full-fledged information for tourists, he said the Agency, in collaboration with stakeholders, is constructing camps, visitor centers in Nech Sar and the Semine Mountains National Parks.
The Agency is intervening in areas where there is basic facilities gaps which would not be developed by private investors. Besides, it is promoting destination areas that need to develop through the involvement of investors though their participation is very minimal.
Foreign investors have now engaged in destination area development. The task carrying out in Al-Nejashi Mosque is a case in point. Ethiopian Diasporas have also been affiancing in the construction of tourist shelters and camps.
So far, the Agency is not identifying new destination areas; rather, as they are not developed well, it focuses on the existing tourist destinations. Since they are not getting special attention, developing western, southern natural heritages would be Agency’s major area of focus.
When tourists visit tourist destinations of the rural parts of the country, they could not find adequate tourism facilities. The very reason behind this is, that investors are unwilling to spend huge capital in such rural areas, rather in big towns. Through providing various incentives, the Agency has been convincing investors to invest in various tourist destination areas so as to gain benefits.
Nowadays, some investors are showing interst to construct service providing institutions in towns such as Hawassa, Bahir Dar etc. Ensuring equal distribution of service delivery institutions at tourist destination areas is critical to increase the number of tourist influx, the Director added.
If there are no related services, the tourists could not spend much of their wealth, time in these areas. As a result, the nation could not gain the desired benefit from the sector. So, the Agency has been developed strategy to address the aforesaid challenges.
So far, there is no problem that prohibits investors to invest in destination areas. So, the Agency is dedicated to show the importance and benefit of investing in destination areas. It also needs to address the challenge through creating consensus with private investors.
The incentives given to investors engaged in developing tourist destinations, according to him, are tax holiday and free land access for those build hotel among others. But these are not quite enough. As per the mandate given to the Agency, it is working to complete incentive package via discussing with investors, Chirenet said.