ETO to award diaspora businesses for tourism contribution

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Addis Ababa, 25 August 2014 (WIC) - The newly established Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO) is set to award Ethiopians doing businesses abroad for their contributions to the tourism sector, which many believe is an untapped sector in Ethiopia.

In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, Solomon Tadesse, former consulate general to the US and currently Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ETO, said that partnering with Ethiopian embassies worldwide, his organization will deal with businesses run in the US and in other nations and award them if they can help bring in more tourists in the coming two years or so.

As mandated for the marketing and product development in the tourism sector, ETO will advance in boosting the country’s image across the tourist sources.

“We have come up with an idea, we are developing a point system in which each restaurant in it will have a kind of symbol or something that might read ‘we are a member of ETO’ and make available business cards will tell people a bit about Ethiopia and promote it,” Solomon said.

Based on the efforts of the diaspora, if tourists are able to note that they have come via the information they obtained from one of those diasporas, ETO will eventually tally and award the top performing ones.

Traditionally, trade fares were the ideal way Ethiopia was previously promoted for tourism reasons, Solomon noted. But in addition to that the new idea of having roadshows, which will mix historians, writers, and other scholars to be part of trade shows with the cultural and traditional presentations, is expected to allude Ethiopia to the tourist potential countries.

By 2015, Ethiopia is set to amass USD 3 billion from one million tourists expected to visit the nation. Currently, the revenues hang around USD 250 million and the number of tourists are close to half a million.

Yet, Solomon is convinced the targets are attainable. In 2020 the country also targets to become one of the top five tourist destinations in Africa. However, poor wildlife preservations, lack of infrastructure and the top down awareness issues are some of the challenges Solomon will face in the contemporary tourism sector.

Making matters more serious, hotel room charges and frequent increases are what he will address for the enhancement of tourism.

Recently, Ethiopian Airlines has introduced a 40 percent price cut in domestic flights in an attempt to subsidize the sector to flourish. Yet, catering industry is expected to follow suit. (Reporter)