Solomon Tadesse, CEO of the Organization made the remark here at the annual tourism industry report released by Jumia Travel.
The report portrays key trends of the country’s successes and failures as well as its untapped opportunities in the industry.
“The country is looking for a transformational growth that will take the sector to the next level, marketing Ethiopia locally and internationally to make the country among Africa’s top five destinations. We are also shifting gear to incorporating technology into the industry,” said Solomon.
Although the Ethiopian tourism sector has been bolstering over the years, recent unrests have been a setback to the country’s growing leisure and conference tourism industry.
However, the sector remains resilient as the country continues working towards prioritizing security to ensure the safety of visitors and citizens, as well as to minimize the impact of security threats.
Despite being a destination with ten UNESCO registered global sights, the country is yet to exploit its tourism potential fully. However, it has made promising efforts to promote the country’s name in the global tourism spectrum.
The hospitality report by Jumia Travel indicates that over 800 thousand tourists visited Ethiopia in 2016, bringing over 5.6 billion US dollars to the country. This is dwindling performance compared to its 2015 performance as the country hosted over 900,000 visitors in 2015.
Although the current declined figure does not meet the country’s expectations, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism hopes to increase the number of tourists to one million and the revenue to well over 29.8 billion US dollars in 2017.
On the other hand, a remarkable growth has been achieved in terms of investment on the sector, rising by 3.7 percent end of 2016.
“Expansion on tourism activities contributed to reducing Ethiopia's dependence on agriculture. Until recently, little had been invested in mapping the country’s tourism, but the last decade has seen intensified interest from investors,” Alexander Burtenshaw, country manager of Ethiopia said.
The Ethiopian economy continues to enjoy remarkable growth, and the hospitality sector is poised to continue on its impressive trajectory over the medium term in the wake of increased number of inbound travelers, and growing awareness on what the country has to offer.
Although conference tourism is growing in Ethiopia, most travelers to Ethiopia came looking for leisure as most of the sector cash flow 84.4 percent comes from leisure spending while 15.6 percent is from business spending.
In terms of hotel booking, the highest demand remains in Addis Ababa at 39 percent followed by Hawassa at 11.2 percent and Bishoftu at 8.1 percent and Bahir Dar 7.5 percent. Majority of these visitors are from Africa (31%), followed by Europe (30%), and North America.
Domestic Tourism is also growing with more people taking vacation within the country. However, foreign visitor spending is the highest at 68.7 percent while domestic spending is slowly growing at 31.3 percent.
Ethiopian travelers are seen to demonstrate a major interest on 2 and 3 star hotels, with 37 percent and 36 percent respectively. More price sensitive customers opt for complimentary breakfast, wifi, pool, and gym as well as airport pickup. Notably, a large number of customers prefer to pay online (59%) rather than at the hotel upon arrival (41%). The rising growth of online payments can be attributed to foreign travelers who book hotels with international credit cards.