Addis Ababa – Ethiopia would be one of the top five tourist destination countries in Africa if it properly implements the Sustainable Tourism Master Plan, being formulated to boost the sector, IGAD said.
The master plan would help the nation to realize its goal of becoming one of the top five tourist destinations by 2020, advisor to the preparation of the master plan at IGAD Dr Ray Muntida told ENA.
The master plan tabled yesterday for discussion to gather additional inputs to be incorporated in the draft sustainable tourism master plan (STMP).
The STMP is an initiative currently being developed through the technical support provided by the Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA) and the Division for Regional Integration and Trade (RITD), in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
He expressed hope that the nation would achieve the target before the deadline because of its stability, fast economic growth and interlink between the master plan and growth and transformation plan of the country.
The nation needs to continue the infrastructure development and the strong commitment of the government and the private sector to realize the goal, he noted.
The master plan is part of the on-going process of the implementation of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) sustainable tourism master plan (STMP).
Ethiopia is the first country in the bloc to prepare national master plan, he added, Uganda is expected to be next in preparing a national master plan.
ECA has covered the cost for the formulation of the national master plan, in which the process has entailed extensive field missions across the country, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders drawn from various sectors including public, private, professional organizations, civil society, regional government officials and academia.
The IGAD STMP was informed by a regional tourism study commissioned by UNECA, SRO-EA in 2010 and the green light for its formulation approved at the 15th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) of SRO-EA that took place in Djibouti, between 21st to 24th February 2011, whose main focus was on tourism under the theme Towards a Sustainable Tourism Industry in Eastern Africa.
The IGAD STMP has since been completed and was officially launched the IGAD Tourism Inter-Ministerial forum held in Nairobi, Kenya last year.
The tourism industry in Ethiopia is identified as a key sector in both the 1st and 2nd Growth and Transformation Plans of the country.
The identification of the sector as such is due its strong potential to bring about meaningful socio-economic development owing to the fact that such potential remains largely untapped. For instance, in terms of the prevailing cultural and heritage resources, the country is ranked at position 33 globally, above Egypt which is ranked 39th, and is regarded as one of the safest countries in the world.
Yet, despite its current challenges, Egypt continues to draw over 9 million international tourist arrivals annually compared to the country’s 550 000 as of last year. Nonetheless, the industry still contributes 12.3 percent of the GDP, is a leading foreign exchange earner and a key sector for both domestic and foreign investment valued at 16.38 billion Birr in 2013.
The industry is also a one of the leading employers generating over 2.4 million jobs both directly and indirectly.