Boosting Tourism to Catalyze Ethiopia’s Development
Ethiopia is set to tap into its immense tourism potential in order to become one of Africa’s top five tourist destinations by 2020
The country already boasts nine UNESCO World Heritage Sitesunspoilt landscapes, diverse and distinctive wildlife including colourful birdlife, and has now established two entities to help it unlock the vast potential of its tourism sector.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn the government set up the Ethiopian Tourism Transformation Council and the Ethiopian Tourism Organisation (ETO) to help the country use its tourism potential to boost the country’s economic growth, promote inclusive development and ensure environmental sustainability.
The Ethiopian Tourism Council provides leadership and strategic guidance for the ETO, which will act as the Council’s secretariat and implementing body.
The ETO was officially launched on 1 July 2014 by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“We have a lot of hard work ahead of us but the strategic thinking behind the setup of the Tourism Transformation Council and the Ethiopian Tourism Organisation means that Ethiopia is heading in the right direction,” said UNDP Resident Representative Eugene Owusu. UNDP is partnering with ETO as a strong advocate of sustainable tourism development in Ethiopia. Mr. Owusu stressed that, “For Ethiopia to fully benefit from its vast tourism potential to support economic growth, to alleviate poverty and to protect the natural heritage, the country needs to prioritize and overcome some fundamental challenges.
ETO will work to address the key challenges within the tourism sector. These include the shortage of skilled manpower in the tourism sector, the limited number of first-class hotels (particularly in major tourist destinations), inadequate investments in destination development, including major national parks and heritage sites. The ETO will also focus on marketing Ethiopia as a top tourism destination by designing strategies and programmes aimed at scaling up tourism product development.
Ethiopia’s Tourism and Culture Minister, H.E. Amin Abdulkadir emphasised the importance of partnership, and the need to pull together the government, private sector, and the development partners to support the ETO and help it to transform the tourism sector in Ethiopia. “I hope we can work hand-in-hand to improve the sector and turn Ethiopian into one of the top tourist destination in Africa,” he told guests at the ETO launch ceremony.
UNDP’s support to the ETO is part of its ongoing engagement in transformative initiatives which seek to catalyse development in Ethiopia. In recent years, UNDP supported the design and establishment of the Agricultural Transformation Agency and the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange. UNDP will build on these lessons and using its global network ensure that the ETO has access to proven knowledge and technologies in tourism development. UNDP will also partner with various government partners to help the ETO in a number of key areas, including strengthening its leadership and technical and policy advisory capacity. Support will also be provided to the ETO as it develops national plans, boost its implementation capacity for tourism development, improves tourism marketing, and promotes investments to the sector.
With the introduction of the ETO and Tourism Transformation Council, Ethiopia is well-situated to leverage its enormous tourism potential through cohesive tourism development that creates new jobs and stimulates investments, expand the market for its goods and services, helps diversity the country’s revenue base and bring it closer to its goal of reaching middle income status by 2025.