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Draft bill to allot 30 percent tourism revenues for community development

Draft bill to allot 30 percent tourism revenues for community development

Hotel star rating to commence next year

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MoCT) is drafting a new law which looks to benefit communities settled around tourist destinations by allocating some 30 percent of the total tourism revenue generated from the sector, The Reporter has learnt.

In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, Meaza Gebre-Medhin, state minister of MoCT, said that the ministry is drafting a proclamation in a view to help communities share the benefits from tourism sector. According to the state minister, the new trust fund proclamation and another one focusing on wildlife protection are in the making to incorporate the importance of allotting certain benefits to local communities’ development.

“We are in the process of drafting these laws to allocate some 30 percent of tourism revenues to the local communities, Meaza said. “The intention here is that protecting tourist destinations need participation of the communities and the practicality of that requires a legally warranted benefit which is necessary to reach those communities”.

Currently, priceless cultural and tourism heritages such as such as Lalibela rock hewn churches, and some national parks and sanctuaries are under critical danger. To protect these heritages, the ministry along other measures is devising laws which will also harmonize the ecotourism activities in the country.

In related news, the ministry is also setting the stage to conduct the second phase of hotel star rating next year. So far, the hotel operators have met with officials of the ministry to discuss difficulties in requiring timely measures. During the first star rating program, conducted two years ago, some 365 hotels have been starred and only 167 have received official ratings. Addis Ababa alone has 80 hotels starred and only six hotels including Sheraton Addis found to be five starred.

Many operators are found to be non-compliant to fire control standards, hygiene and sanitation requirements, and the like. Hotel operators argue that they are having hard times in relation to securing plot of land for expansion projects, lack of skilled manpower, tax incentives and the like. According to Meaza, there are 50 local assessors trained and skilled to commence the upcoming star rating process across the country.