Addis Ababa, 14 March 2014 Â Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn made official the establishment of new entities touted to be instrumental in transforming Ethiopiaâ€™s tourism industry.
At a gallant ceremony held inside the African Union and attended by senior government officials and prominent personalities, Tourism Transformation Council and Ethiopian Tourism Organization are launched. The entities are established under the Council of Ministers Regulation No. 294/2013.
Prime Minister Hailemariam will serve as chairperson of the Tourism Transformation Council highlighting the governmentâ€™s commitment to develop the sector.
â€œIt is imperative to coordinate the activities of the various stakeholders in the tourism industry to promote and develop the sector,â€ Hailemariam said during the inaugural.
The council, whose members are drawn from federal and regional government institutions, the private sector, associations and religious institutions, is tasked with the major responsibility of providing leadership and directions.
â€œFor a long time, our country has been negatively portrayed internationally,â€ Hailemariam said. â€œThis is quickly changing and we need to sustain our efforts to positively portray the image of the country,â€ he said.
The council, which will meet once every six months, conducted its maiden meeting under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.
The ceremony also saw the establishment of an autonomous federal government organ – the Ethiopian Tourism Organization. The organization will function as the secretariat of the council and is structured to have a Tourism Board and a Director General.
Endowed with rich natural, historical and cultural resources, Ethiopia has nine UNESCO registered World Heritage Sites â€“ the leading in Africa. However, the countryâ€™s underdeveloped tourism industry is ranked 120th globally and 17th in Africa.
Under the growth and transformation plan, the government aims to make the country one of the top tourist destinations in Africa.
The establishment of these entities will lay a strong foundation and help us in our efforts to develop the sector, Amin Abdulkadir, tourism minister, said during the inaugural.
He said the ministry is encouraged by recent growth of the sector and is keen to scale up its efforts to utilize the full potential of the countryâ€™s tourism industry.
The number of tourists coming to the country is growing by 10 percent annually while income from the sector shows a 20 percent growth, according to data from the ministry.
Source: Walta Information Center