Tourism: an indispensable role for sustainable growth
Tesfaye Lemma 04-04-17
Ethiopia has been working industriously to alleviate poverty and ensure fast as well as sustainable economic growth. Many economic analysts argued that investing on tourism sector could play significant role in economic transformation. Following the unrest in some parts of Ethiopia, many people hesitated whether the influx of tourism is sustained in the same way it was in the past five years or not. Even some groups argued that tourism would face an impediment due to the unrest. However, the impact of the unrest on the incoming number of tourists was not that much significant.
The government has determined to give a special attention to Institutional capacity building and development of tourist destinations in order to benefit the country from the sectors as it has a huge opportunity in the sector. It is known that Ethiopia has a huge potential in tourism but the country has not been benefited much from it. It is planned to give more attention to the sectors to secure the desired benefits particularly in institutional capacity building and development of tourism destination.
In fact, there are some affirmative measures that the country has been taken so far. It is crystal clear that encouraging private businesspersons to engage in building hotels, lodges, recreational areas and other infrastructure for tourists are well underway. It is also promising that collaborative efforts will be made in the future as the sector needs the integrated cooperation of stakeholder.
According to information from Ministry of Culture and Tourism, in the first quarter of the current fiscal year Ethiopia has managed to bag some 872 million USD exclusively from foreign tourists.
The tourist flow to the country has increased in past three months defying speculation and fears of violence that hit the nation since the previous year and resulted in the declaration o of the State of Emergency.
In the stated first three months of this budget year, over 223,032 tourists have visited the country mostly through conference tourism, research business and other activities. The sector has generated some 872 million USD in the stated period. It is also know that close to 300,000 local tourists have visited various sites across the nation in the same period.
The tourism industry is one of the sectors emerging to be a potential revenue maker in the country. As the country endowed with the myriad of tourist attractions, smart promotion need to be employed to market the blessings and generate considerable revenue. Thanks to the attention attached to the sector, the tourism industry is seemingly awakening. In fact, following the unrest in some parts of the country, tourist inflow was slightly decreased in this year first quarter compared with the previous year's same period.
To stimulate the sector's growth, various measures have been taken including issues related to visa and customs, preserving and developing tourist sites throughout the country thereby increasing revenue earnings from the sector.
During this year's first quarter, Ethiopia had earned around 872 million USD from foreign visitors. Data show the tourist inflow has been increasing over the past six months registering more than 300,000 tourists the country. This in a fact a testimony for the country peace and stability has bee reigned. Several international and regional conferences which attracted many delegate across the world were held during the state of emergency.
The annual summit of the 28th African Union Heads of States Conference was also one of the grand meeting held recently here in the Capital is a case in point for hosting foreign crowed. Recognizing the impact of the decree, hoteliers and tour and travel agencies, missions abroad are still working to attract more tourists to give impetus to the sensitized sector.
The increase in Foreign Direct Investment as well as the restoration of sustainable peace and stability was attributed to current tourist influx. More importantly, the role and contribution of actors in the sector must be intensified.
Through relentless promotion and development, currently the tourism industry is growing from time to time compared with its initial stages of development. Changes in governance systems have facilitated enabling environment for the sprouting of tourism in the country.
Indeed, Ethiopia’s tourism has been more focused on the socio-cultural and historical aspects of the country’s development. The nature-focused tourism has attracted more foreign tourists though its outstanding biodiversity and agro-ecological zones could surpass nation's tourism potential.
Fortunately, the high level of development, coupled with marketing and promotion services of tourism, has resulted in the influx of foreigners to Ethiopia. The tourist corridors could be easily developed into a vibrant and sustainable tourist destinations for both domestic and foreign visitors. The wide-ranging natural resources and most developed infrastructure and services along the corridors are of paramount significance.
Apart from contributing for national development and transformation plan, the tourism sector could play a crucial role in creating jobs, attracting foreign investment, connecting other sectors with value chaining ones. It could also tap the opportunity creating more enabling environment for expanding infrastructures such as road, air transportation and communication facilities. The burgeoning of the sector is instrumental in poverty reduction and economic growth.
Moreover, Ethiopia's rich and diversified cultural heritages and natural resources further serve spring boards for the advancement of the sector. Until now, the sector has been growing at an annual average rate of about 10 percent over the past decade as Ethiopia has been attracting increasing amount of Foreign Direct Investment. It is estimated that tourism is contributing about 4.5 percent to the GDP, or close to three billion USD benefiting about 1.5 million people to improve their living standards.
With the concerted efforts of all stakeholders, a large number of tourists are expected to visit Ethiopia until the end of this year. Certainly, the plan would not be affected as the industry need to improve the quality of services, churn out and employ skilled management, provide adequate promotion of attractions and allocate rich finance to preserve historical, man-made and natural attractions.
As the sector engage many actors, problems need collective actions from the government and other pertinent stakeholders to transform the tourism sector. Despite the mounting fears and speculation that the State of Emergency State of Emergency is likely to affect the tourism sector, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said on Thursday that in the first quarter of the current fiscal year Ethiopia has managed to bag some USD 872 million exclusively from foreign tourist flows.
It is of paramount importance for the government to identify all the possible tourist destinations so as to upgrade the development in those areas that could trigger tourists. The potential in the sector that the country has endowed with is not yet utilized completely.
If the country could meaningfully invest on its various tourist attractions and destinations, the sector so ample that it could contribute a significant role to the fast growing economy of the country. Ethiopia has been registering fast and sustainable double digit economic growth for the past decade which gave hope to all citizens that the country is on the right truck of transformation. Harnessing the tourist sector largely could also contribute its share in the transformation of the country.