Ethiopia: World Bank strengthens conference tourism with 28m Br

The financial support will be used to support the coordination efforts of the tourism organization

The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank has pledged 28 million Br to support the hospitality industry in Ethiopia.

The financial support will be used to support the coordination efforts of the Ethiopian tourist organization in the hospitality industry, in particular conference tourism.

Fitsum Arega, head of the staff at the prime minister's office and chairman of the newly formed national tourism boards, announced the promise at a press conference at Jupiter Hotel on 13 August 2018. Special packages for the Ethiopian diaspora returning for the new Ethiopian year also announced.

"The World Bank reached this decision after successive talks with the board," said Fitsum.

The World Bank plans to provide technical assistance to the organization to improve institutional capacity, improve conference management management and launch stopover tourism.

The Trade Association of hotel owners is currently also developing a strategy specifically tailored to conference tourism.

"They are high-yield visitors with minimal negative environmental and socio-cultural impact," says Benyam Bisrat, member of the Tourism Board and chairman of the Addis Ababa Hotel Owners Association. "Developing such a strategy will help us overcome problems related to seasonal influences."

The Association will publish the Addis Ababa strategy by the end of September, followed by a conference guide for the capital and its surroundings in October.

Tourism is one of the biggest earners of foreign currency. During the past fiscal year, $ 3.5 billion was generated from the sector and 933,000 tourists visited the country. On average, a tourist spends two to three days in the capital, according to estimates by the World Economic Forum.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) recently welcomed a welcome in the diaspora community of Ethiopia. The board has since reached agreement with private players in the hospitality industry to offer incentive packages.

Ethiopian Airlines, the Immigration & Nationality Affairs Main Department, the Tour Operators Association and the Hotel & Taxi Owners Association have promised to offer their services with a discount of 25 p.c. From August 15 to before the hotels they have pledged the discount for accommodation on September 30, 2018.

The Prime Minister recently also assigned Lensa Mekonnen, an event and tour operator, to the head of the organization. The tourism organization, managed by the board, was established in 2014 with the aim of promoting tourist destinations, development and marketing.

Teshome Fantahun, with over ten years experience in the tourism industry and a teacher at the Catering & Tourism Training Institute at St. Mary University, believes that there is still a long way to go before conference tourism can be exploited in Ethiopia.

He believes that expensive hotel and transport prices, poor customer service and lack of competent human power keep the hospitality industry back.

"The first thing you have to do is to recognize the need for conference tourism for our economy and use all our potential for its development," he said. "An agency that sets standards and centralises the efforts of the various stakeholders would also benefit conference tourism."

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