Ethiopia: Marriott’s first Executive Apartments in Africa
By Henok Reta
The Reporter - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Marriott International, Inc. Middle East and Africa President and Managing Director Alex Kyriakidis said that Ethiopia’s peace and stability were key factors for the company choosing to operate in partnership with Sunshine Business Group.
During the opening of the first African Marriott Executive Apartments (MEA) in Addis Ababa Kyriakidis said that Marriott International, as a leading worldwide operator in the hospitality industry, always gives specific attention to security and stability whenever planning to expand. Because of its high reputation and importance to its 52 million royal members, Marriott has to focus on these issues, which have been well maintained in Ethiopia over the years.
MEA Addis Ababa is located off Jomo Kenyatta Street and is adjacent to the UNECA headquarters and conference center. The USD 35.5 million apartment hotel features 101 suites of 68 square meters of which two are penthouse presidential suites, each with a fully equipped kitchen. It will also have a swimming pool, a grocery store and room services.
According to Samuel Tafesse, president and owner of Sunshine Business Group, the huge investment the government is currently making has given him greater courage to operate in the hospitality industry. During the same event, Samuel signed an agreement to construct and manage a five-star Marriott Hotel in the vicinity of Bole Medhanelam. Similarly, he signed a deal with Hilton Worldwide to construct and operate a Hilton Resort in Hawassa, 270 km southeast of the capital.
While speaking at the inaugural ceremony held at MEA, President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) acknowledged that the effort made by Sunshine Business Group has tremendously impacted the country’s development in the construction sector. On the other hand, Amin Abdulkadir, Minister of Culture and Tourism, said that Samuel has become the second local investor to introduce an upscale international hotel brand in Ethiopia next to business tycoon Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi of the Sheraton.
Speaking with The Reporter, Kyriakidis described Samuel’s determination and commitment while coping with the difficulties he faced during the process before he signed the final agreement with Marriott International three years ago.
“The success is because of that pretty remarkable partnership,” he said.
He also hinted that the rate of the apartment hotel could be USD 250 per night as Addis Ababa incurs the highest average rate in Africa due to its crucial presence as a hub in the continent and due to the largest African flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines. According to Samuel, Marriott Courtyard Hotel is expected to cost some USD 76 million and Hilton Resort in Hawassa will cost around USD 42 million, making the total cost for the two brands 3.2 billion birr. Solomon Tadesse, CEO of Ethiopian Tourism Organization, on his part said that the completion of the two hotels within the coming five years will have a significant contribution to the country’s tourism as hotels play a greater role in keeping the tourism sector vibrant and dependable.
According to Kyriakidis, MEA and the future Marriott Hotel are supposed to create full-time jobs for 600 citizens, which would have a positive effect on both the economic and social aspect of life in Ethiopia.
Similarly, Sunshine Business owner and EVP, Selamawit Samuel, commented, “We are proud to open the first Marriott branded Hotel in Sub–Saharan Africa. Marriott is an outstanding brand which will add great and unique hospitality flair to the diplomatic capital of Ethiopia."
Marriott International, Inc. is a global lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, US, with more than 4,300 properties in 81 countries and territories. Marriott International reported revenues of nearly USD 14 billion in fiscal year 2014. The company operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts under 19 brands.
Ethiopia touts ancient churches, dramatic landscape in tourism drive
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - When Scottish explorer James Bruce published a five-volume work in 1790 about his search in Ethiopia for the source of the Nile, European readers dismissed his account of ancient churches and castles: surely no such things existed in the heart of Africa.
Fast forward to 2014 and Solomon Tadesse sometimes feels he faces similar preconceptions as he seeks to attract tourists three decades after images of famine and communist purges filled TV screens and shaped the world's view for a generation.
Yet Solomon's Ethiopian Tourism Organisation is making headway in the battle to change attitudes. Visitor numbers have risen 12 percent a year in the past decade to reach 600,000 in 2014. His target next year is one million.
"That aspect has definitely diminished: the old clichés, the old paradigm, the old mentality of Ethiopia being a country of famine and war, but rather now with a potential for economic growth," said Solomon, chief executive of the organisation, a joint initiative between the state and private enterprise.
In the capital of Addis Ababa, the transformation from the starvation years and the "Red Terror" purges of the 1970s and 1980s is plain to see. Construction is booming and a metro opens next year, cutting through the sprawling city -- the only such network in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ethiopia's goal is to boost tourist revenues to $3 billion next year from $2 billion in 2013 and, if it achieves that, it will start challenging the dominance of regional rivals on Africa's eastern seaboard, such as Kenya and Tanzania.
Travel: Eating in Ethiopia: The Four Sisters
By Stephen Scourfield, Travel Editor The West Australian
"Ethiopia has history, nature and culture," says guide Firew Ayele. "The problem is that this was known as a country of drought and famine." The very word "famine" still, decades later, provides too easy a couplet with the word "Ethiopia".
But, as Tony Evans points out, it was one moment, in a certain time, in a certain place. Even in 1974, the whole of Ethiopia was not affected.
This is a country rich in agriculture and fresh produce, and which has been irrigated with the help of Israel and its technologies.
"We have enough land and enough water," says Firew. "We have the longest river in the world, the Nile, and 13 other major rivers running all year." And an ancient history in horticulture.
Ethiopia among Lonely Planet’s 10 best value travel destinations for 2014
Ethiopia has been named as one of the 10 best value travel destinations for 2014 by Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world. Ethiopia is 'one slice of Africa that rewards the curious as well as the deep-pocketed', writes the publication. Tourists can see a huge amount of its highlights by taking great-value and time-saving flights along the country’s Historic Route. This astonishing journey includes the Lake Tana monasteries and the Blue Nile Falls, the rock-hewn wonders of Lalibela and much more, writes Lonely Planet.
Others in the list include, Greek Islands, Italy, Nicaragua, Bulgaria, Portugal, Fiji, Mexico, Karnataka India and Palawan, Philippines.
Travel: Ethiopia: Land of Dust, Eucalyptus and Hope - New York Times
Published in the New York Times Sunday Travel October 13, 2013
I had already spent the last few hours watching Haftay hopscotch up the gravel path toward whatever it was that lay on the other side of the ridge. My guide, Mulualem Gebremedhin, and I had spent most of the day — the first of three we would spend hiking together in eastern Tigray on Ethiopia’s northern border — lagging several steps behind Haftay, a local villager accompanying us on the first leg of our trip.
Haftay sang tunelessly as he lunged on long, sinewy legs and struck brisk, almost yogic poses — mostly, I think, for my benefit. He skipped up the path in the same flimsy plastic shoes that practically everyone wears in that part of Ethiopia (opaque, brightly colored jellies), and every so often cracked a joke at me in Tigrayan. I nodded dumbly; Haftay and Mr. Gebremedhin, who goes by the name Mulat, laughed.
“I love this guy, he’s crazy,” Mulat said.