Addis Ababa October 26 /2019 Underestimation of domestic tourism is inflicting development of the industry in Ethiopian Tour Operators Association said.
Association Chairperson, Kiros Mehari, told ENA that the country is losing huge amount of revenue that could have been generated from domestic tourism due to the lack of enough attention from stakeholders in the sector.
According to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), domestic tourism refers to traveling within one’s own country for the purpose of leisure or pleasure than a subset of international tourism.
Citing the World Tour and Travel Committee (WTTC) index, Kiros revealed that Ethiopia has gained only 22 percent from the domestic tourism in 2018, whereas it has managed to collect about 78 percent from the international tourism.
Tourism is about the freedom to explore beyond one’s usual area of residence and going somewhere away from home, UNWTO claimed.
However, researches show that majority of Ethiopians exercise this freedom in their own backyards by engaging in passive leisure activities and home based tourism actions which includes visiting friends and relatives, he said.
Ethiopia has benefited less from its domestic tourism potential though experiences from other countries show a reverse trend, he said.
Domestic tourism has either been ignored or underestimated largely due to the fact that international tourism is an indiscernible hard currency generating sector.
It must be recognized that domestic tourism in Ethiopia is still at inception stages, so sound policy need to draft in order to promote the sector, the Chairperson said.
“We do not have any law, strategy or policy that can lead the development of our domestic tourism. Legal framework is very essential to manage the sector”, he said.
Domestic Tourism Expansion Coordinator at the Ministry of Tourism, Tewodros Habtamu said the government is working to revive domestic tourism in the country.
He stated that domestic tourism is being promoted as the next frontier to boost the much needed tourism revenues in Ethiopia and the ministry is charting out several strategies that would help to develop the sector.
“We are at the final stage of outlining strategy for domestic tourism, so I believe that the problems such as making tourism destinations suitable with affordable price for the local tourists and strengthening different clubs that promote local tourism at schools and institutions beyond policy and strategy drafts,” he said.
Tewodros indicated that the strategy will be completed shortly and will serve as a guideline to developing domestic tourism for the coming five years.
Three decades before Ethiopia came up with a domestic tourism policy encouraging local residents to travel locally especially during the low tourism season.
According to world Tourism and Travel Council, domestic tourism is the key driver of the tourism sector globally, accounting for 73 percent of total Travel and Tourism spending in 2017.
The Council listed China as now the leading domestic tourism market, up from 4th position in 2008, having accounted for 62 percent of absolute growth in 2017.