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ETO teams up with Africa Oil to build camping site in Nech Sar

ETO teams up with Africa Oil to build camping site in Nech Sar

The Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO) has teamed up with the Canadian Oil company, Africa Oil, and the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority to build a world class camping site at the Nech Sar National Park, near Arba Minch town, Southern Regional State.

The new CEO of the ETO, Yohannes Tilahun, told The Reporter that his organization has teamed up with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority and Africa Oil to build a world-class tourist campsite at the Nech Sar National Park. Yohannes said the campsite will be ecofriendly with all the required facilities for people who love adventure tourism. “Tourists who love adventure do not want to stay in hotels in such areas. They prefer camping sites. In collaboration with Africa Oil we are going to build a world-class camping site would make tourists say that the park is more enjoyable,” Yohannes told The Reporter.

The camping site would be an eco camp where the community would participate in catering various services for tourists. “For Africa Oil, it is a community development project or corporate social responsibility work and for us it is about attracting more tourists and making their stay enjoyable,” Yohannes said.

Africa Oil, the Vancouver based oil exploration company, has been engaged in oil exploration projects in South Omo, Ogaden and Arba Minch basins. 

Nech Sar National Park is situated 510km south of Addis Ababa near the town of Arba Minch, in between Lakes Abaya and Chamo.  A wide variety of animals roam freely on the 514sqkm savannah, dry bush and ground water forest, which are also the habitat of 188 recorded species of birds. Animals that can be seen are Bushbuck, Swayne's Hartebeest, Burchell's Zebra, Grant's Gazelle, Guenther's Dik-dik, Greater Kudu, Crocodile, Anubis Baboon, and Grey Duiker. Birds that can be seen include Red-billed Hornbill, Grey Hornbil, Fish Eagle, Kori Bustard, and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. A backdrop of hills and mountains combine to make Nech Sar one of the most attractive national parks in Ethiopia, and its location makes Nech Sar Park accessible.  

Yohannes said tourism is one the top priority sectors for Ethiopia. “Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Hirut Woldemariam (PhD), and the board chairman of ETO, Tewolde Gebremariam, are closely looking at what we are doing and giving us guidance. We have many ongoing projects, which we do not want to disclose right now because it will be pulling the cart before the horse,” Yohannes said.

Yohannes said that ETO is envisioned with making Ethiopia one of the five top tourist destinations in Africa in the next five years. “Right now we are focusing on destination development. For instance, we are looking at what we can do at Ert Ale, one the major tourist attraction sites, to make tourists’ stay more convenient. We are also seeing what we can do at Gondar and Axum.”

Yohannes said that the most important thing for ETO is what kind of stay tourists have when they come to visit Ethiopia. “To ensure tourists have enjoyable stay we have to develop a mechanism that enable us to collect information. So we are going to invest on information technology,” he said.

ETO has developed a mobile application that provides information to tourists on their phones and it is also in the process of upgrading its website.

With the view of transforming the tourism sector the Ethiopian government established the Ethiopian Tourism Transformation Council chaired by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn.