Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - The recent violence and the instability that followed in major tourist destinations, including Libya and Egypt, have helped to boost tourism in a number of East Africa nations including Ethiopia, which saw an 111 percent growth in tourism income during the first half of the current fiscal year. However, it was those countries with better tourist facilities that took the bigger pie, with the industry in Ethiopia being, for various reasons, less ready for the unprecedented market boost.

Sisay Teklu, coordinator of Tourism Services Competence Accreditation Directorate with Ministry of Culture and Tourism, spoke to The Reporter’s Hayal Alemayehu about the tourism sector’s recent performance and related activities in Ethiopia. Excerpts:

A good number of licensed tour operators are engaged in car renting business, thereby abusing the duty-free privilege given to the sector solely to run tour operations. And because of the fact that there is a rising demand for four-wheel drive cars with the flow of tourists increasing by the day, more and more tour operators have become car renters. While this creates unfair competition against the formal car renters who import duty paid cars, why does the Ministry of Culture and Tourism fail to inspect such tour operators and take action?

Presently there are 308 licensed tour operators that took competence certificate and recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The activities of these operators are being inspected every time they renew license. Those who are properly running their operation will continue their operation while those who fail to do so will [have their license revoked and] go out of the business. And because of that the number of tour operators may vary from time to time. Yet, there could be a thousand of them out there who are not licensed and are still engaged with tour operation activities. These unlicensed operators could be involved in such an illegal activity. It is clearly put that the duty-free privilege given to tour operators is solely for tour operations, meaning to let them use the duty-free imported cars to tour visitors and tourists. As such, the duty free imported cars should not be passed to third parties. But this does not mean that there are no licensed tour operators that are violating the rule. Read More