The Addis Ababa Hotel Owners Association proposed to the Addis Ababa City Administration to launch a joint campaign against the travel bans imposed by some Western countries in the wake of series of public riots that rocked the nation.
Following the public riots in the Amhara and Oromia regional states last year the governments of the US, UK and some other Western countries issued travel advice that warns their citizens not to travel to most parts of Ethiopia. Though the security situation in the country has stabilized significantly the countries still advise citizens not to travel to Amhara and Oromia regional states.
During a consultative meeting that was organized by the Addis Ababa Culture and Tourism Bureau recently, deputy president of the Addis Ababa Hotel Owners Association, Zenawi Mesfin, said that though there is peace and stability in the country some countries have not yet lifted the travel bans. “This has negatively affected the tourism industry. Hoteliers and tour operators are suffering a lot. They are even unable to service their bank loans,” Zenawi said.
Zenawi proposed to the Addis Ababa City Administration Tourism Transformation Council that the association wants to work together with the Council and the Culture and Tourism Bureau in launching a joint campaign against the travel bans. “We have to explain to these countries that the situation has calmed down and peace and stability is restored. We have to show them the present reality in the country. They should know that it is now safe to travel to any part of the country,” Zenawi told the city officials.
Zenawi further stated that his association has been closely working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “But we can form a joint taskforce with the Tourism Transformation Council and the Addis Ababa Culture and Tourism Bureau to promote the tourism potential of the city and the nation in general.”
According to Zenawi, Ethiopia has a vast untapped tourism potential. “We have to develop the tourist destinations and we have to promote them globally. We have to aggressively work on promotion and marketing.”
Chairman of the Addis Ababa Tourism Transformation Council, Mayor of Addis Ababa, Driba Kuma, and Gebretsadik Hagos, head of the Addis Ababa Culture and Tourism Bureau; have conceded to the idea proposed by the Addis Ababa Hotel Owners Association.
Mayor Driba said that the promotion and marketing work requires public private partnership. “We have historical routes in northern Ethiopia, Erta Ale in the Afar Regional State and the Rift Valley lakes in the south. We have to partner with the private sector in promoting our tourism attractions. It needs a public private engagement. And Addis Ababa should take the lead.”
Though the Ministry of Culture and Tourism denies the adverse impacts of the recent public riots, hotel owners and tour operators says that they have felt the pinch. Hotel owners and tour operators have complained that the tourism influx has plunged. Especially those who operate in the Amhara region are the hardest hit by the impacts of the political unrest. The Ethiopian Hotels Association disclosed that room occupancy rate has declined by 25 percent and estimated the lost revenue at 380 million birr.