The Kenya Association of Travel Agents in partnerships with Ethiopian Airlines Nairobi Area Office and the Embassy of Ethiopia in Kenya, last week hosted a webinar to promote Ethiopian Tourism Opportunities to the Kenyan market.
In the forum, the stakeholders explored areas of potential collaborations between businesses and institutions working in the travel and tourism sector.
Speaking during the event, H.E Tsion Teklu, State Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs in Ethiopia urged the two countries to come up with innovative approach to addressing policy issues facing the tourism industry in both countries.
“We have a lot to offer! Our proximity should make us work closely. The prosperity of Kenya is the prosperity of Ethiopia and Vice versa,” said H.E Tsion Teklu.
In 1988, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) gave leeway to individual countries to design their tourism development policy by taking into account their historical, cultural, social and economic conditions.
WTO pointed out that, third world countries should focus on the problems involved in the choice of policy as this will help them optimize the return from their tourism resources; natural and cultural.
H.E Jean Kamau, Ambassador of Kenya to Ethiopia urged Kenya’s travel agents and tour operators to take advantage of the vast tourism opportunities that Ethiopia holds. She urged stakeholders to relook Visa policies that will facilitate free flow on people between Kenya and Ethiopia.
During the past few decades, tourism has emerged as one of the world’s major industries, exceeding the importance of many manufacturing industries and other services in terms of sales, employment and foreign earnings.
Travel and tourism role within Sub-Saharan countries is very significant. In Kenya, for example, the tourism industry has rapidly become the number one foreign exchange earner, a status of central importance to the country’s economic health.
However, the results are far from uniform in the rest of Sub-Sahara. There is considerable disparity when considering tourist receipts as a percentage of GDP when a range of Sub-Saharan African countries are considered, such as Ethiopia.
Speaking at the forum, the Chairman for Kenya Association of Travel Agents, Mohammed Wanyoike pointed out that the amount of outbound travel to Ethiopia from Kenya has not been proportionate, insisting that this has to change.
A number of less developed countries that are endowed with abundant tourist attractions have failed to capitalise on their resources in order to improve their export earnings capabilities. Lack of strategic objectives has been a major drawback in some countries.
Others suffer from negative perceptions of their destinations mainly due to unstable political situations, lack of security or poor facilities.
Mr. Wanyoike told the Ethiopian counterparts that with appropriate strategies, “destination Ethiopia can be extensively promoted as a preferred destination for major outbound tourist markets from East Africa,” adding that, “with all that Ethiopian tourism has to offer, a greater focus on travel and tourism will play a part in unlocking its potential and ensuring that benefits ultimately accrue to young people across Ethiopia and beyond.”
He also implored travel agents in Kenya to focus on curating packages that will attract their clients to destination Ethiopia as the market offers immense potential for business development for Kenyan travel agents.
While urging Kenya’s travel agents and tour operators to sell destination Ethiopia, H.E Meles Alem, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia to Kenya said that Ethiopia is open and safe for travel.
His statement came in the backdrop of Ethiopia being awarded the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp – the world’s first-ever global safety and hygiene stamp.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism last year implemented a raft of measures to ensure safety for residents, travellers, workers and businesses in the tourism value chain, as the country reopened its borders to international visitors.
Ethiopian Holidays, a division of Ethiopian Airlines has also been curating holiday packages that will help promote leisure travel into Ethiopia especially for residents within East Africa and the larger African continent.
Mrs. Tigist Terefe, the Kenya Country Manager for Ethiopian Airlines said that the airline remains a formidable partner in the promotion and accessibility of Destination Ethiopia and its attraction sites. She cited Ethiopian Airlines domestic air connectivity as the best in Africa as most parts of the country are serviced by the Airline.