“Ethiopia has a lot to offer to tourists: from the Blue Nile falls to world-class archaeological sites and warm and welcoming people. Ethiopian Airlines, which also has daily flights between Addis Ababa and Brussels, is marshaling massive operations worldwide with excellent services to incoming and outgoing tourists, says an article appeared in the Brussels Times Newspaper edition of May 25, 2021.
The piece was published following a virtual event co-organized by the Embassy of Ethiopia in Brussels and the Ethiopian Airlines Benelux Area Office with a title “Ethiopian’s Tourism Potentials: Promoting Ethiopia as a Preferred Destination for Tourists”.
The aim of the event was to promote Ethiopian tourism to tour operators based in Belgium and Luxembourg, connect Ethiopian tour operators with Belgian and Luxembourgish counterparts, and create a platform for discussions on the prospects and challenges of the sector.
As a cradle of humankind, and with much more to explore, Ethiopia always invites tourists to visit their origin and enjoy the friendly and generous reception from the people, the piece continues.
Ethiopia is endowed with wide variety of tourism potentials which include all-in-one tourism, historical, religious, cultural, natural, and adventurous destinations. Ethiopia is the only African country that has its own alphabet (Geez) and calendar.
The promotion event was moderated by Amb. Hirut Zemene, Ambassador of Ethiopia to Belgium, Luxembourg, and the EU institutions, and was attended by the CEO of Tourism Ethiopia, Sileshi Girma, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Ethiopia, Francois Dumont, Ethiopian Tour Operators’ Associations (ETOA & TETOA), Benelux Area Manager of the Ethiopian Airlines, and representatives from Ethiopian Hotels Association, and owners of travel agencies from Ethiopia, Belgium, and Luxembourg, among others.
While welcoming the participants and invited guests, Amb. Hirut Zemene stated that Ethiopia is an ancient civilization and is perhaps, one of the few countries in the world with its own alphabet and calendar. She further elucidated that the oldest fossil with 3.2 million years old, the mother of humankind, “Lucy”, originates from Ethiopia; the hottest place on earth, Erta Ale. Not only that the country is also blessed with a chain of mountains ranging up to 4000 meters above sea level; and 13 UNESCO inscribed World Heritages are found in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is the origin of coffee and the longest river in the world, the Nile. It is due to these original riches that Ethiopia’s tourism brand is known as the “Land of Origins,” Amb. Hirut added.
At the official opening of the occasion,. Sileshi Girma, CEO of Tourism Ethiopia, stated that Europe, along with the United States and Asia, account for the majority of tourists visiting Ethiopia. He mentioned that with over 80 percent of its population having a culture of spending their holiday seasons outside of the country, Belgium remains an important source of tourists.
He further noted that Belgium is one of the top destinations for Ethiopian Coffee and extended his warm invitations to all Belgians and Luxembourgish people to visit Ethiopia and taste coffee from its origin. Sileshi also called upon the Belgian and Luxembourgish tour operators who have not yet been to Ethiopia to explore the vast potential of the country’s tourism riches.
The CEO also highlighted Ethiopia’s readiness to welcome tourists with the necessary COVID conscious protocol at the airport, destination sites, and lodging.
It is evident that COVID-19 has highly affected the tourism sector around the world. To protect the tourism sector from the adverse effects of the COVID, the government of Ethiopia has taken various steps, including the opening of destinations to visitors complying with the COVID safety protocols, the granting of tax holidays to businesses in the sector during the high season of the pandemic and digital promotion of destinations. As a result, Ethiopia has become the latest destination to be awarded “the Safe Travels Stamp” – the world’s first-ever global safety and hygiene stamp – from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
Amb. Francois Dumont, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Ethiopia, who had one of the guest speakers, on his concluding remarks congratulated the Ethiopian Embassy and the Ethiopian Airlines for organizing a successful event and highlighted the significance of tourism for people-to-people relations, in addition to its economic importance. He also recommended Belgian tourists visit Ethiopia to enjoy coffee, and beautiful nature, culture, and history.
Ethiopia is exceptionally rich in tourism potentials in Africa with its long and uninterrupted history, natural beauty, and cultural and religious diversity with their colorful festivities.
Tourism is one of the significant contributors to Ethiopia’s GDP. The new ten-year development plan of Ethiopia identifies tourism as one of the five priority sectors of the economy along with agriculture, manufacturing, ICT and mining.
The government of Ethiopia is working aggressively in developing and expanding new tourist destinations. These include Unity Park, Sheger Project, and Entoto Park in Addis Ababa, and the three newly launched tourism projects in different parts of the country, namely Gorgora, Wonchi, and Koyisha as part of promoting Eco-tourism.
During the discussion session, important points such as issues of the cost of travel, accommodation and local transportation, COVID situation, and security issues were raised and discussed.
The virtual event further encompassed presentations about Ethiopia’s tourism potentials made by Woldegebriel Berhe, Director of Tourism Destination Marketing, followed by presentations made by Daniel Ademe, the owner of Source Ethiopia Tours, and Representative of Talak Ethiopian Tour Operators Association and Hans Van der Stock, a representative of Live to Travel from Belgium. Ilse Dehandschutter, Sales Manager at Benelux Area Office of the Ethiopian Airlines (ET), also presented the attractive offers and services provided to tourists by Ethiopian Airlines (ET), the largest Airline in Africa.
COMPILED BY MENGESTEAB TESHOME
THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD MAY 28/2021