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Ethiopia launches revamp of flagging tourism industry
By ANDUALEM SISAY in Addis Ababa
Source: Africa Review
"The she comes!" shrieked the older white lady, her finger excitedly pointed towards the blue sky.
Her younger male companion quickly snatched up the binoculars on the table and zeroed in on the drone about to land.
The time was about 4:20 pm, and the two were seated at the terrace of the Bekele Molla Hotel in Arba Minch, southern Ethiopia.
According to a tourist guide in Arba Minch, since the Washington Post newspaper reported the presence of a United States drone base in Ethiopia in October 2011, tourists have flocked to the city hoping for a sighting as they take in other attractions.
The Ethiopian government has not denied the report.
Located 505 kilometres south of the capital Addis Ababa, Arba Minch is already one of the Horn of African country's top tourist designations of Ethiopia.
Every year tourists arrive from across the world to see the famous "crocodile market" in Lake Chamo, together with sampling dances from various tribes.
The area is also rich in wild animals ranging from lions and baboons to endemic birds around the lakes and in the nearby Nech Sar National Park.
Yet, with nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites and referred as "the origin of mankind" due to its million-year-old fossils, Ethiopia’s tourism sector has performed way beyond its neighbours.
Last year Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda generated $1.7 billion, $1.2 billion and $800 million respectively, while Ethiopia earned only $461 million from its industry.
A recent study, the "Economic Growth and Tourism Sector in Ethiopia", underscores that the country has underexploited its rich tourism potential.
The report identified lack of skilled human resource, poor infrastructure, lacklustre marketing, a weak financial system and poor government support for the underperformance.
To arrest this, the country of 85 million in September 2010 launched a new tourism development policy that also encourages the active participation of the private sector.
The country has also set target of generating $3 billion revenue per annum from the sector from 2015 as stated in its national Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) launched three years ago. This plan outlines a target of creating three million new job opportunities, of which 1.8 million or 60 per cent would come from tourism.
The number of tourists that are expected to visit is projected at one million by the end of 2015, double the 500,000 visitors who have arrived in the country since the launch of the GTP.
According to the plan, Ethiopia should have become one of the five major tourist destinations on the continent by 2012. Current statistics show that the country is ranked the 19th most preferred tourist destination in Africa.
On July 30, the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority launched its new marketing strategy aiming to triple the current annual tourism revenue.
The new strategy categorises the country's national parks into premium and non-premium, increasing the entrance fees.
Currently, admission to all Ethiopian parks is around $5 for visiting tourists, $3 for expatriates, $1 for Ethiopians and about half a dollar for Ethiopian students.
Now the authority plans to charge foreign tourists from $13 to 16 for premium parks and from $6.5 to $8 for the rest.
"Compared to neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, the entrance fee to Ethiopian parks is still too low," said Binyam Admassu, the Tourism Development Technical Advisor, noting that entrance fees to national parks in Kenya and Tanzania amounted to between $35 and $65.
In addition, The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ethiopia is set to construct a unique museum dedicated to displaying archaeological findings such as Lucy, Selam and other remains of early hominid specimens.
The ministry has already secured 4,500 square meters of land in the centre of Addis Ababa near the National Museum. In addition to boosting income by attracting more tourists, the 10-million euro museum will play an important role in promoting tourism.
"The museum shall become first in its kind that only collects the fossilised remains of archaeological finds of the remains of early hominids," said Mr Amin Abdulkadir, the country's Minister of Culture and Tourism.
Among the 14 kinds of human origin specimen, 12 of them are found in Ethiopia. Different researchers agree that these evidence makes Ethiopia the cradle of mankind.
Ethiopia’s archaeological findings include the world famous "Lucy", the partial skeleton of a specimen of Australopithecus afarensis and the recently discovered fossil Selam, a three-year-old girl who died 3.3 million years ago.
Lucy, known as "Dinknesh" in Ethiopia and dated at 3.2 million years, in May completed her five-year tour of the United States, earning $1.5 million from the 300,000 people who saw her.
The question is now how effectively the country will implement all its new policies, strategies and projects to benefit from its rich natural and cultural resources.
Interesting article but what is the reason Ethiopia did not become among the top destinations? What was the plan? What is the current plan to climb to the top?
Ethiopia has a lot of attractions from north to south and east to west to any tourists. It is sad the country has not exploited tourism yet. Learn from the other African countries.
Attracting tourists takes a committed hard plan and execute it wisely. It takes advertisement money, infrastructure, qualified travel agents, guides, safety and respect for tourists. Word of mouth advertisement is more powerful than any campaign to attract tourists.
Any price increase should come after increasing the number of tourists. Outlaw and make it illegal any surcharge for camera nd video cams which is unheard of in other countries. That is gouging.
By the way ,what about the Entire Activity whether on the Tourists Transports and the Hôtels Business owned by the same guys .From EFFORT and the Agazi Bandit Groups .Some in the Diaspora have tried to launch their own activities ,but confronted to the Agazis Clientelism and state Corruption many of them have been obliged to abandon .Don’t forget also the country ’s environment specially the Woods and Wildlife being destroyed by Foreign Looters because of the Agazi Land Grabbing evil program ,
better late than never. kudos to the govt. we have a long way to go especially in the area of archaeology.
i truly believe there should be a massive discovery of buildings and artifacts from our glorious past.
Yes, I agree that the tourism sector in Ethiopia is very weak. Also, the admission fees to the parks is very cheap.
Kenya and Tanzania charge a lot more because the parks are well maintained, and there are lots of activities in those parks.
Ethiopia can start charging more, BUT, there MUST BE some kind of improvements to the parks before jacking up the entrance fees.
Areas of improvement/additions include: Rest rooms, Camping grounds, Showers, Satellite Internet access, restaurants, etc. or else increasing entrance fee is not justified.
Ethiopia earned only $461 million from tourist industry, While Kenya and Tanzania generated Billions with much less to offer.
There are a lot we can learn from both countries. They have better tourist facilities to start with; it is not what your offer on paper, but what you can package right now. The image of Ethiopia as poor and famine stricken country is still the mind of many people. Harassing ordinary citizens, sending journalists and political opponents to prison\exile for any little reason, the potential of war with neighboring Eritrea every so often, all these negative news coming out the country doesn’t help our image. We need to work on our image in addition to having better tourist facilities. Just raising the price to the parks with no improvement to complement the increase will chase away even potential tourists.
Now going back to ETV news, it says:
“The number of tourists that are expected to visit is projected at one million by the end of 2015, double the 500,000 visitors who have arrived in the country since the launch of the GTP.”
These are mostly Ethiopians in Diaspora who came to visit their home country despite being harassed and ridiculed by Wayanes. Now do the math’s. If 500,000 visitors come to the Country the last 3 and half years, how do we expect to get 1,000,000 more in the next 16 months?
2015 is only 16 months away.
Here is more…
“The country has also set target of generating $3 billion revenue per annum from the sector from 2015 as stated in its national Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) launched three years ago.”
Again 2015 is only 16 months away. we earned $400 now, but we expect $3 billion by 2015?
Yes, we all love our country and wish Ethiopia to earn even more from Tourists. Diaspora or non-diaspora. But dream and reality are two different things.
Come 2015 we will not talk about the $3 Billion from tourists or the $2 billion from flower export or the 14% GDP growth, WeredaNET, three meals per day etc…We will move to next episode of Woyane GTP drama on ETV. Waiting! There is already one in the making it is called GERD!
OK, you plan, plan and plan to visit Ethiopia. You cough up huge amount of money and time to get there only to get harrased, rediculed, robbed by officials. It will cost one $50 to see Lalibela; a little hinderance to the so called “tourism expansion". Bad attitude at hotels, two tire price (same food on the menu would cost you tripple if it is written in english), poor infrastracture, i can go on and on…. How bloody hard is it to put a simple mosquito net in a room? Have you seen the mosquito nets, they have holes bigger than your fist… Have you come across a hotel manager tell you “sorry your room is taken by government officials because there is a big meeting in town"? Have you hired a car for a week and the second day the driver decides to change the contract and demand payment, price increase bla bla bla. Have you witnessed you government issued documents not accepted or honnored? There is a lot of work to do, most of the work is very simple, to talk about gathering billions of dollars. Common…………….i’m not happy at all.
Teddy Faraw Bekele Mola is Gurage, the turists were sitting at his hotel. Always, don’t attach it with Tigre. Ayferedbim ante sitweta ESKISTA WERAGE SLENEBERK ATAWKEWM. KITA Ras.
Fix the article, tigray EFFORT earns $ ftom all enterprise including touri, but Ethiopia gets nada
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