Hospitality business in the making

HiltonAddis Ababa, Ethiopia – Back in the days of the emperors, Addis Ababa was able to host the first ever Etege Taitu Hotel, named after Empress Taitu, the wife of Emperor Menelik II. It opened doors some 116 years ago. The establishment of Taitu Hotel gave the capital a new face.

A face of hospitality at least for the royal circle. Members of royal family and ranking inner circles of the emperor were hesitant to give it a try, because it was not a regal thing to do at that time; to have a meal inside a place called hotel. As some literatures proclaim they even discarded it all together.

Little by little, the inner circles of the royal society started to become accustomed to the concept of wining and dinning at an establishment called hotels. From then on to now, the hospitality business came to serve many including travelers across the world. Yet, fifty years later, Ethiopia sticks with only three hotels which could be named for their international presence. The 47-year-old Addis Ababa Hilton was built by Emperor Haileselassie I. Some 15 years ago, followed Sheraton Addis, which bears one of the luxury brands of Starwood Hotels and Resort Worldwide. Radisson Blu came up with the brands of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group as only the third hotel Ethiopia has ever registered in the name of international brands.

But right this time, the hospitality industry seems to be picking up trying to catch up with at least the neighboring nations which amasses billions of dollars from the tourism and hospitality sectors annually.

There are a number of factors which had deterred the growth of hospitality industry in Ethiopia. Before, 1991 Ethiopia was struggling to be in the list of the hospitality sector. The famous 13 months of Sunshine slogan which still serves in promoting Ethiopia was launched during the time of Emperor Haialesellaise I. Behind branding and cultivating the tourism sector, one bold figure is to be mentioned. Habtesellaise Tafesse was a minister of tourism back in imperial days. It was that time which gave opportunities for many local as well as international brands like the Hilton to come into the play until the Derg seized power. Before the military took over the government, Bekele Mola Hotels, Ghion Imperial Hotel, Wabi Shebelle Hotel, Ras Hotel, Ethiopia Hotel, Omedad Hotel and the likes were mushrooming in the capital and regional cities.