Tourism has been classified as one of the five main sectors that have a positive impact on Ethiopia’s economy and has been given special attention by the government. The sector has the potential to involve a large number of human resources and experts in the sector say that it has a significant role in reducing unemployment. According to recent data, the tourism sector alone involves 10% of the working force. It is a huge industry.
The influence of the sector is huge in terms of overcoming the shortage of foreign currency and building the country’s image. It is often said that it can benefit the country via showing its potential particularly by promoting Ethiopia’s history, beautiful nature, Land of Origin, multicultural, language, alphabet, early literature and architecture and attractions registered as international heritages.
For the reasons mentioned above, the government has given special attention to the tourism sector by organizing it independently at the ministerial level. It is also carrying out constructions of destinations by bringing new ideas. Under the initiative of the Prime Minister, the projects that have been implemented and are being implemented in Addis Ababa, Amhara, Oromia and southern parts of Ethiopia in the last two or three years are considered to be examples of this. The projects are expected to add potential to the sector.
Scholars in the field also say that these tourism destinations’ development projects have shown results quickly; have built Ethiopia’s image; connected professions with professionals and are rapidly changing the concept of Ethiopian tourism. The scholars suggest that the projects that have come into operation, such as Gebeta Lesheger, the ongoing construction of Gebeta Lehager (Wonchi Dandi Echo Lodge, Gorgora Beach Project, and Koisha), as well as the projects that will be built in Gebeta Letiwlid, will be fully completed and put into operation. It is said that the attractions such as Entoto and Unity parks, Friendship Square in Addis Ababa and Halala Kella in Dauro Zone, which have been completed and put into operation, have a significant impact in terms of income, job creation, and increasing the flow of tourists in a short period of time.
Yitaseb Siyum, Deputy Director General of Tourism Training Institute said that Ethiopia is a country with a lot of tourism resources. The destinations that have been built add value and have stimulated the sector. They will attract tourists who go to other African countries, including Kenya, for fun, wedding and special celebrations, and will bring a new perspective to Ethiopia. This approach is different from the previous idea of tourism and that it provides an additional option.
“If we take the recently completed Halala Kella Resort as an example, it has the capacity to allow visitors to choose for their weddings and ‘honeymoon’ celebrations not only from Ethiopia but from all over the world,” Yitasab said. Likewise, projects such as Gorgora, Wonchi and others will create this kind of potential in the tourism sector. The parks that started their operation in Addis Ababa are showing good results in this regard.
Stating that Ethiopian Airlines transports several millions of people to different parts of the world; the deputy director pointed out that transit or “stop-over” tourism creates the opportunity to visit parks and attractions in the city. In this regard, the destinations that have been built and started providing services in recent years will have a huge contribution and are convenient for visitors. Entoto, Unity, palace historical heritages and similar destinations are also said to be up to standard.
Mentioning that tourism is a sector that creates a lot of job opportunities, Yitaseb said that these mega projects have been able to create a positive impact in terms of job creation. The new destinations in the tourism sector such as Gorgora, Wonchi, Koisha, which will be launched in the future, will create real job opportunities for many people.
“If we take Friendship Park as an example, there are many people who provide services in hospitality, food and drink service, photography and others, starting from those who sell tickets at the gate,” Yitasab said. It will create new entertainment and sightseeing culture especially in Addis Ababa.
Yitasab further said that apart from building a standard destination, high ethics is expected especially from service providers when visitors come to Ethiopia. He also pointed out that continuous improvement works are expected to bring an Ethiopian and consistent service delivery when a visitor goes to all parts of the country.
During his stay with the Ethiopian press agency, Abiy Nigussie, Head of the Tourism Sector and a Teacher at the Tourism Training Institute, explained that the newly built and operational destination projects have shown rapid changes and can be exemplary.
“In addition to new attraction and tourism destination the Entoto Amusement Park has taken a big part in the creation of job opportunities,” Abiy said. Similarly, the tourism destinations that have been built and renovated in the city are examples of the significant contribution of tourism to the economy. This means that when attractions, natural resources, heritages and similar destinations can be tourism products and are presented on the market, it makes us see the positive effects they directly create on the society.
Abiy said; “We don’t have to look at the high costs we spend when doing tourism destination development works.” spending on the right development even if the cost is high, the tourism sector can return the costs in a short time and create more national resources. For example, the destinations recently built at high cost such as Friendship, Unity, Entoto Parks and the like, are being visited by a large number of people and are bringing in income.
According to the data of destinations that have been operational; among the destinations that are being built under Gebeta Lesheger and Gebeta Lehager projects, some have been fully completed and put into operation. One of these is the park located on the historic Entoto Mountain, which includes various services integrated with the environment. Both domestic and foreign visitors will have the opportunity to see historical places when they are there, and they will be offered the services and entertainment that the times allow.
What makes this location unique is that mothers who had been engaged in tedious and low-income jobs in the area for a long time have got a life-changing job opportunity following the project’s emergence. Other popular resorts in the city and well-known service providers are on site ready to host visitors. Data indicates that Entoto Park is the first of the projects that entered the tourism industry.
Next to Entoto, Friendship and Unity Parks, which were built in Addis Ababa, are the second projects to be mentioned. As the capital of Africa and the seat of many diplomats, Ethiopia is an all-inclusive resort.
Friendship number two park is targeted on kids and teenagers. According to the data, thousands of students, parents, youth and adults have been visiting the park since the day it was inaugurated and opened to the public. The park is a great entertainment option where children can find all kinds of toys in one place. The site has several contents that indicate that it takes into account the inclusivity that tourism demands.
The Halala Kella Resort is one of the destinations planned to be built in Koisha by Gebeta Lehager project. It is among the resorts that have been rapidly completed in recent years and have joined the Ethiopian tourism industry. This place is becoming preferred by visitors from abroad or within the country to go to the place due to its attractiveness and amazing view. It is expected that in a short time, the tourist flow will increase in popularity and stimulate the hospitality sector of Ethiopia.
These projects make Ethiopia the place of diversified tourism resources. Apart from being the owner of nature, culture and history, they indicate that it is making progress with new tourism concepts and values. In addition, it is possible to realize that the country is the owner of projects that have been able to show results in a short period of time.
BY BACHA ZEWDIE
THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD WEDNESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2023