Ethiopia Striving to Revitalize Tourism Sector

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Addis Ababa May 18/2019  Ethiopia is working to revitalize the nation’s tourism industry through restructuring the ministry and introducing new systems, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said.

Ethiopia’s travel and tourism economy has grown by 48.6% in 2018, surpassing the global average growth rate of 3.9% and the African average of 5.6%, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual review.

In 2018, travel and tourism contributed 7.4 billion US dollars to the country’s economy, an increase of 2.2 billion US dollars on 2017. The sector now represents 9.4% of Ethiopia’s total economy.

However there are limitations that need to be addressed in the sector including ineffective marketing and promotion, insufficient infrastructure and limited access to finance, Tewodros Derbew, Director of Tourism Services Competence Accreditation at the Ministry told ENA.

Unable to properly promote the potentials of Ethiopia’s tourism sector, and failure to expand tourist attractions were also among the problems that challenge the sector.

Tewodros said activities are being undertaken to address those challenges.

Restructuring the Ministry in order to enhance its implementation capacity as well as its ability to work in collaboration with stakeholders is the major step taken to address the challenges, he added.

The restructuring is aimed at equipping the ministry with the right professionals in order to enable it effectively discharge its responsibility, Tewodros said.

“Considering the extent of the problems, the ministry is working in reorganizing itself with skilled labor. So, there are efforts; if the good beginnings are continued in a strengthened way, the tourism sector would be on the right track and it is possible to say that it is on the right track that would allow us to benefit in the long run.”

In addition to the restructuring, the ministry is working on improving capacity of its professionals in order to conduct hotel grading by itself. Previously, hotel grading was conducted in collaboration with the World Tourist Organization.

 “There is now functional system which is established to improve quality of hotels through continuous training to the professionals of the ministry and regions in order to grade hotels on our own. Now we are building new hotels in almost all regions and this will continue” he said.

Domestic tourism was not given a priority, Tewodros said adding, but now a strategy on ways of improving domestic tourism has already crafted and is being discussed by stakeholders in the sector.

“We are inviting various stakeholders and responsible bodies to make consensus on the problems and gaps in the private sector, government side and other executive bodies and find mutual solutions to fill the gaps through action plans” he added.

The ministry is striving to develop the sector in collaboration with stakeholders, he said mentioning an action plan to be implemented within a short period in collaboration with tour operators with the aim of addressing problems in the area.

He added that such collaboration with various actors will be continued to develop the sector and exploit resources.

“13 Months of Sunshine” was the brand that defined Ethiopia for the past 50 years, until a new tagline – “Land of Origins” was introduced in 2016. However, the new brand has not effectively promoted, said CEO Tourism Ethiopia, Lensa Mekonen.  

“It has been 2 and half years since the brand is changed and there were plans to promote it; however, by the time when came to Tourism Ethiopia [formerly known as Tourist Organization] the plans were not implemented and the major gap was lack of attention” Lensa said.

Unable to properly implement the marketing strategy has led to the poor performance in promoting the potentials of Ethiopia’s tourism sector, and expand tourist attractions, she added.

Noting the importance to promote the brand and tourist attractions, Lensa said “We are trying to promote the brand using the traditional and modern marketing strategies which will help us promote our resources and would be able to link with other sector offices in the 2012 Ethiopian fiscal year,” Lensa noted.

According to the CEO, efforts are also being exerted to digitalize the data regarding number of tourists. She said “We are now working to collect accurate tourist data through satellite system while taking the reality of the country into consideration.”

The system will help to collect accurate and up-to-date information regarding number of tourist who visits the country.