As the number of hotel guests continues to rebound, the hospitality industry has started to show signs of life with the long-awaited recovery around the corner, following the launch of the Diaspora Homecoming Initiative.
Coinciding with the tourist peak season, which usually runs from September to January; this is welcomed news to the sector, which has been struggling to stay afloat, receiving financial assistances, in the form of low-interest loans from banks.
Starred hotels in the capital city reported occupancy rates of over 40 percent in the last two weeks, significantly higher than the two percent occupancy rate registered a month after the first case of the coronavirus pandemic was reported in Ethiopia.
Managers of hotels attributed the rebound to the homecoming initiative, which they believe uplifted the confidence of tourists to come and visit the country, adding that the relatively stable political situation observed since last month, have had its own contribution.
“Our room guests doubled since the launch of the initiative,” said Dereje Bogale, manager of Golden Tulip, a five-star hotel whose occupancy rate now stands at 40 percent.
Various reports published by different international organizations by the end of last year indicated that bookings and sales of air ticket to Africa showed a tremendous growth since November 2021.
The number of inbound international travelers to Africa and the Middle East exhibited a 68 percent annual growth, according to ForwardKeys, which provides travel trends and insights to tourism organizations, hotels and retailers.
Last week, the Ethiopian Airlines also recorded a historic-high 22 daily flights to Gondar during Epiphany celebrations, another sign of recovery in the tourism sector. Hotels in Addis Ababa and nearby cities have introduced a discounted offer to attract customers, which industry insiders say has paid-off with the surge in number of guests.
The two-decade old Kuriftu Resort, which was among the establishments hit-hard by the COVID-19vpandemic, is among the businesses that showed signs of recovery in the last two weeks.
“We are seeing a sign of recovery lately, which makes us optimistic that the future is bright,” said Michael Tesfaye, marketing manager of Kuriftu Resort.
Experts are also optimistic that hotel bookings would improve, with business activities rebounding as of late. Kumneger Tekletel, managing director and lead consultant of OZZIE Business & Hospitality Consultancy, is one of them.
“The call for the diaspora has changed the perception of tourists coming to Ethiopia, which is driving up the business lately,” said Kumneger, suggesting the hospitality establishment needs to gear-up by introducing new products and upgrading their existing services, with the sector recovering due to promising developments.
The African Union Summit, which is expected to be held in Addis Ababa beginning from next month, is also another pleasing outcome for players in the hospitality industry, which expect further increase in room occupancy rates because of the event.