(The Ethiopian Herald)–Uniquely, Ethiopia is endowed with myriad of tourists attractions. To everyone’s surprise the mix of the attractions encompass natural, historical, cultural, and archaeological ones. Over the years, due to poor infrastructure and passive promotional works, the nation’s tourism resources have not been marketed for its immense in store. The revenue from the tourism sector was not that much significant. According to sources, the contribution of the tourism industry to the GDP was limited to five per cent.
Quite recently, the government has come to realize the potential of the sector. Being the forefront sector to promote the image of the country and budding revenue maker the attention given to the sector is awakening the industry.
Among the bold steps the government took the establishment of Tourism Transformation Council led by the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the reorganization of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization are the major ones. Most importantly, efforts are underway to aggressively promote the nation with the new national brand ” Land of Origins “.
With no doubt, Ethiopia has many to offer to the world. The landmark attractions of the world like the astonishing Rock Hewn Lalibela Church, Castle of Gondar and the Semien Mountains National Park are the magnificent ones. Some 12 literary works and documents registered by UNESCO as world heritage makes Ethiopia one of the top leading African countries. More to the point, UNESCO has also inscribed the Yayu Forest, Kaffa Coffee Forest, Sheka Forest and Lake Tana biospheres as World Heritage Sites.
Despite the development of tourists sites with pertinent actors, the government is working hard to get registered the tangible and intangible heritages in the prestigious list of UNESCO.
Aspiring to be one of the top five tourist destinations in Africa in the coming four years, efforts are underway to solicit energy to use country’s tremendous tourism potential. To this end, hosting UNESCO high level meeting here in Addis, the third largest diplomatic community in the world next to New York and Geneva, means a lot to the country.
In 2015, the country had received over 14 million Birr worth of investment on Travel and Tourism bringing the sector’s investment contribution to 2.9 per cent of the total investment. Stronger growth is likely to be underpinned by an improving infrastructure. Since the tourism industry involves many actors specially the private sector, the government should encourage actors to make the sector vibrant and influential.
Despite all the challenges, as a springboard to help motivate the tourism market, the market-led economic system being pursued by the country firmly guarantees the rights of the private sector and local communities to participate in the tourism sector and enjoy benefits from its development.
Furthermore, GTP-2 has taken in to account many critical areas such as human resource and infrastructure development, strengthening information, management capacity and service delivery. Nation’s tourism policy also states that coordinated effort of stakeholders is essential to alleviate problems.
It has become normal for Ethiopia to host international conference with huge delegates on various issues.
Of the events, the 11th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage that is going to be held for five days beginning tomorrow would give impetus to the awakening of the tourism sector.
The conference will create opportunities for the nation to showcase its tangible and intangible heritages as well as natural resources. It is grand opportunity since close to 1,000 participants from different countries are expected to attend the conference.
Choosing Ethiopia for this grand event is second to none as Ethiopia has been offering wonderful world heritages. Certainly, the conference will also help the country increase the revenue from conference tourism. It could be a potential avenue to promote and avail the rich resources with all possible means thereby building the image of the country and marketing the untapped potential.
Of course the delegates are likely from the sector and this must be a ripen opportunity for actors in the sector to seize any possible chance to promote the untapped nation resource.
For the ministry of Culture and tourism it is a golden opportunity to exhibit the blessings of the country besides lifting up the image of the country. The diverse culture and festivities deserve the recognition of UNESCO. Owing to the efforts made in the past years the finding of the true cross, Fiche Chambalala, the Sidama New Year festivity have already been registered as Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Gada system is expected to be endorsed by the conference for the same list. Blessed with mix of tourist attractions, the registration of many more heritages on UNESCO list is imminent.
Joined the convention after three years since the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was passed by the UNESCO General Conference in 2003, efforts are underway to enlist the attractive heritages.
It is convincing that Ethiopia as a leading country in Africa in registering heritages deserves the honor to host such UNESCO meeting. After all, it is the birth place of humanity. For the sole reason the right avenue for tourism conference many label Ethiopia and hospitality synonym.