By Tsehaye Debalkew, Ethiopian Embassy, Washington DC
Tigrai Online April 10, 2013
A "Business to Business Meeting" designed at bolstering Ethiopian Tourism Market in the US and engage American Tour Operators with their Ethiopian counter-parts was held at the premises of the Ethiopian Embassy here today, a press release obtained from the Embassy stated.
The event is seen as an ideal venue for creating the necessary enabling conducive environment for networking of enterprises deployed in the hospitality industries of the two countries, according to the press release.
Mrs. Tadelech Dalecho, Ethiopian State Minister of Culture and Tourism, who was on hand to declare this auspicious event opened, stated in her speech that Ethiopia is endowed with diverse tourist attractions and great varieties of land, climate, people, cultures and languages. "It is an ancient nation with great diversity filled with rich historical, cultural, and archaeological attractions, as well as numerous areas rich in wildlife", she underscored.
The State Minister said on the occasion that Ethiopia is the cradle of humanity where pre-historic tools dated as far back as six million years ago were unearthed with Lucy (who is locally known as "Dinknesh"), as the most remarkable of the numerous discoveries. Mrs Tadelech related that the 3.2 million years old skeleton of a female hominid i.e. Lucy that made its maiden sojourn to the US as the first "oldest visitor" to America has connected the American people with their human ancient ancestors.
The State Minister also referred that the country has the innate drive to entice visitors with opportunities for tourism and put the feature of religion ranking Ethiopia as the pioneer venue of the great ancient faiths. She also said faith has served as a source of attraction among many natural and manmade heritages and the rich fauna and flora endowed with enigmatic and unique emblematic characteristics.
Referring to modern day current inflow of tourists visiting Ethiopia she indicated that it has grown fourfold during the last two decades. However, despite this growth and its huge potentials, the contribution of the tourism sector to the country’s economic and social development is yet very modest, she retorted.
Recognizing this challenge, the Ethiopian State Minister said that the Ethiopian government has recently launched a new tourism development policy. This policy underpins that the tourism sector as an engine of economic growth and encourages the active participation of the private sector in the development of the industry, she underlined.
The policy also posits the importance of securing the benefits of tourism to the local communities that are custodians of the country’s diverse heritages Mrs. Tadelech, emphasized.
Exuding her optimism the State Minister of Culture and Tourism said that tourism development requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders – including tour operators in the tourist generating countries.
Underlining her faith in the ongoing occasion Mrs. Tadelech expressed her belief that the networking event will create a very good opportunity to foster closer partnership and joint promotions between U.S. tour operators and their Ethiopian counterparts. To this end, she assured the participants of the commitment of the Ethiopian government to encourage and facilitate such partnership, according to information highlighted in the release.
Ambassador Girma Birru, Special Envoy, Ambassador Extra-ordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to the US, resident Ambassador to Canada and Mexico in an earlier remark he delivered said that Ethiopia guarantees the most politically stable environment in Africa, with very high levels of security.
In this regard the Special Envoy stated that during the past decade, it has registered a double-digit economic growth, which positions it among the fastest growing countries in the world. The Ambassador stated as a result the tourism sector is already benefiting from this sustained growth and rapid expansion of infrastructure.
While positively referring to the more than a century old people-to-people relations between the two sisterly nations, recognized that the flow of tourists from the U.S. to Ethiopia is very limited. Aware of this fact the Special Envoy underlined that the Embassy has established a tourism advisory council that will help develop strategies to promote tourism and increase the flow of tourists.
He brought to the fore that working closely with the team, the Embassy has identified, among others things, the need to establish a closer relationship with prominent American Tourism Associations (such as NTA and SKAL) and has been building on this relationship to connect Ethiopian Tour Operators with their U.S. counterparts, he affirmed.
Ambassador Girma declared that "This event, organized in close collaboration with the National Tour Association, is the product of the deliberations with members of our advisory council. In line with this, the objective of today's event is twofold. Our first objective is to highlight Ethiopia's immense - yet untapped - tourism potentials to some of the key players in the U.S. tourism industry".
He went on to add that "The second, and for us, the most important objective of the event is to create a networking forum where U.S. tour operators and tourism professionals meet with their Ethiopian counterparts, to explore the opportunities for a "business to business" partnership to promote tourism". He further announced that more than fourteen Ethiopian tour operators have availed themselves to join the event.
"Our next plan is to organize a similar event in Ethiopia in the coming few months. I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you here - and specially the U.S. outbound tour operators - to participate on the follow-up event, which will enable you, not only to have the opportunity to meet with more Ethiopian tour operators, but also to have a first-hand experience to witness the vast tourism potentials of the country" he revealed.
Mrs. Lisa Simon President of the National Tour Association /NTA/ made a moving remark and expressed her confidence by stating that " We can build bridges from North America to Ethiopia, bringing more visitors to learn about your incredibly rich culture and your history that stretches back to the beginnings of humankind". She further affirmed that much remains in store by saying "this is just the start and we look forward to a mutually rewarding relationship.
There were other remarks made by American and Ethiopian representatives of the sector. To high light the event an elaborate Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony was conducted. This enchanted the participants to appreciate the ancient and traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony which among others has long served as a get together social event, the Press Release underscored. A photographic exhibition pertaining to the multifaceted features of Ethiopia and a display of tourism posters were depicted on the occasion along with two video shows featuring the rich and diverse culture, history, environment and topography of Ethiopia , it was learnt.http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46139