ETHIOPIA SOON TO LAUNCH A NEW SUSTAINABLE TOURISM POLICY
(Posted 31st July 2014)
The presentation of a first complete draft of a new sustainable tourism policy for Ethiopia is now just weeks away and stakeholders are meeting in Addis Ababa since yesterday for a broad consultative workshop.
Two regional workshops were held earlier towards the same end in Mekele and Dire Dawa to allow for greater participation in particular from areas where coming to the national workshop in the capital city of Addis Ababa would pose a logistical challenge.
The Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism has taken the lead and is supported by IGAD and other international development partners including the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa.
The launch of a National Tourism Transformation Council, chaired by none other than the Prime Minister, shows that Ethiopia has at last caught on to the fact that tourism can become a major source of foreign investment, foreign exchange earnings and employment creation. Historical monuments and sites, culture and cuisine all hold attractions to foreign visitors keen to explore a country which roots are going back into biblical days and with the launch, soon, of the new tourism policy and an apparent change of direction by the powers that be in Ethiopia, this is opening up one of the last great frontiers and making it more widely available for tourists to come and visit and not just use Ethiopian Airlines to fly via Addis to other destinations on the continent for a holiday.
Compared to the size of the country, the size of the Ethiopian economy and the range of attractions, including national parks, tourism until now has been a rather neglected sector, apart from conferences being held in Addis courtesy of this being the seat of the African Union. There is now an urgent need to take tourism to the places across the country which travelers are keen to visit but lack infrastructure and comfortable accommodation so far to cater for larger numbers.
Ethiopia is a member of IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and also of COMESA, the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa, the continent’s largest trade bloc and has expressed interest in joining the East African Community in coming years.