Sunday, 25 June 2017

ETHIOPIA: Land Of Origins

A year elapsed since Ethiopia changed its national tourism motto: 'Thirteen Months of Sunshine' to the 'Land of Origins'. The former tourism motto served over a century in motivating the nation's diversified natural and man-made tourism endowments.

Now, the nation continues promoting its untapped tourism endowment and potential with the new motto, 'Ethiopia: Land of Origins'. The country is believed to be the origin of much more. This includes, the origin of humankind; home of the earliest remains of human ancestors ever found - the first being which routinely walked on two feet named 'Lucy', the origin or birthplace of the wild coffee plant, 'Arabica', the origin of the Blue Nile, longest river of the planet.

The attractive and traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony is enjoyed daily by locals and tourists. Ethiopia is also believed to be the depository of the lost Biblical Ark of the Covenant, stored in the securely guarded Chapel of the Tablet next to the St. Mary of Zion Church in ancient Aksum. The Nechisar Nightjar, the elusive endemic to Nech Sar National Park in southern Ethiopia, is the home to world's rarest bird species.

Ethiopia is the only African country that was not colonized. Its capital, Addis Ababa, is the diplomatic capital of Africa being the headquarters of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa as well as other regional and international organizations that make it the third diplomatic hub in the world. This has enabled the city to maximize its benefits from tourism.

Nowadays, the nation is determined to boost its tourism revenue hoping for achieving a remarkable success from the smokeless industry. The country is the leading in Africa with inscribing more than 10 incredible world heritages by UNESCO comprised of or being known for its hospitable peoples.

Recently, Rough Guides, a leading travel publisher that works on promoting tourism destinations worldwide announced Ethiopia as the leading 'World's most welcoming countries' for tourists.

The travel publisher indicated that it has done an assessment through social media on "where tourists have found the most hospitable places around the world". The website describes Ethiopia as a nation with "Lush highland scenery, unique wildlife and majestic rock-hewn churches".

This witnesses how much Ethiopia gains credibility with its hospitable nature by the international community. Ethiopians prioritize for the comfort of a guest and have a long-standing culture of respecting a guest.

The following are among the tangible and intangible world heritage sites of the country registered with UNSECO. Aksum, Fasil Ghebbi Castles, Harar Jugol the fortified historic town, Konso cultural landscape, Lower valley of the Awash, Lower valley of the Omo as well as the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and Tiya are the cultural tangible heritages registered so far.

Semien Mountains National Park is the predominant natural world heritage of the nation located at the northern tip of the country with meandering topography and comfy climate.

And recently, an intangible heritages such as the Meskel festival-founding of the True Cross, Fichee-Chambalaalla-new year festival of the Sidama people and Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo which were inscribed in UNSECO witnessed the nation's richness with ancient civilization. Awash, Nech Sar, Bale Mountains, Semien Mountains National Parks are the leading tourist destinations in the country. Especially, the Semien Mountain as located in the highland makes it a better destination for hiking with an enjoying and fragrant circumstances surrounded with mountainous flora.

Approached by this writer, Ministry of Culture and Tourism Public and International Relations Director Gezahagn Abate told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia: 'Land of Origins' sets to gain momentum in the tourism sector. He added that that's why the nation changed its tourism motto to effectively compete with other countries.

"Actually, the current motto best expresses Ethiopia as a country endowed with marvellous cultural, natural and man-made historical happenings."

From years inwards, the Ministry is working strenuously in proximity with sector actors targeting to redouble the gain from the untapped tourism potentials, he underlined.

He emphasized that the number of tourists coming to the country is also increasing from time to time following standardized services along with transportation, accommodation and tour guiding.

He said that leading the sector with well trained professionals is given a due attention and the ministry is striving to change the past trend with qualified professionals in every sector offices across the country.

"More than two billion USD is secured from the sector in the past nine months of this fiscal year; in which about 700,000 tourists visited the country in the same period and this number is expected to increase until the end of the fiscal year."

According to him, the new task force led by the Prime Minister, the Ethiopian Tourism Transformation Council, has been doing its level best in the sector through facilitating ways of tapping the immense tourism potentials of the country. "The council is the combination of the Ministry, Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO), Tour operators as well as other pertinent stakeholders including universities and the Ethiopian and works actively to activate the sector."

He further said that the expanding of the Ethiopian Airlines destinations worldwide attracts more tourists flow to the country easily, adding that, the sector practitioners quality is also improving following the successive trainings offered by local and overseas sector experts.

Low local visiting culture, competent professionals, awareness to the sector, promotion works and disorganized tour operators are drawbacks of the sector, he emphasized.

For his part, Ethiopian Tourism Organization Public and International Relations Director Getnet Yigzaw said that the organization is doing marketing and promotion as well as new tourist destinations development to boost the nation's gain from the tourism sector. The new tourism motto fits with the country and is witnessing a greater marketing and promotion to its diversified endowments, he added.

Being the leading from Africa with UNSECO inscribed tangible and intangible heritages, the nation has not yet gained more from the tourism industry, he said.

Currently, the organization is undertaking various measures in promoting the nation's ancient civilization footprints and developing new tourist destinations across the country and doing campaign with the new motto worldwide, he noted.

Catering and Tourism Training Institute under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Public and International Relations Head Dr. Kibrework Lemma told The Ethiopian Herald that maintaining professionalism is fundamental to tap the potential of the sector.

"Currently, the institute works in coordination with the sector actors to generate sustainable income from the nation's immense tourism potential."

Thus, the institute is contributing more regarding generating successful and well trained sector professionals to fulfil the tourist serving organizations' qualified human power demand, she added.

Accordingly, the nation has set to boost its tourism revenue to cover a tangible share to its GDP and utilizing more from its long-standing and huge natural and man-made tourist destinations.