Abyssinia Business Network /ABN/
Established in 2003, the Ethiopian Tour Operators Association (ETOA) is a non-for profit organization representing Tour Operators based in Ethiopia. It envisages the nation’s stour and travel sector become a major economic sector that plays an important role in economic and social development of the country and Eastern African Nations through cooperation and sustainable tourism practices.Yakob Melaku ETOA Head reacts with ABN questions.
What are the objectives of the Ethiopian Tour Operators Association /ETOA/?
ETAO is established with the following main objectives:
· To protect the legitimate interests and benefits of its members
· To contribute towards improving tourism services and products to international standards
· To help build good relationships among stakeholders deployed in the tourism sector
· To promote tourism destinations and resources to the global market and by so doing to build the national image of our country
· To build relationships with domestic and international associations and tourism-related institutions.
· To learn from best practices around the world and strive to include these practices in policies and legal frameworks of our country.
· To create tourism awareness, among decision-makers tourist destination communities and the general public.
· To conduct research and development activities in the travel and tourism sector.
· To continuously build the capabilities of members.
What is the most rewarding part of being a Tour and Travel Association?
The most rewarding part of being a Tour Operators Association is the Association serves as an information and communication hub among governmental and non-government institutions at regional, national and international levels in order to promote and develop the tourism industry. The Association communicates with a lot of stakeholders in its efforts to get solutions to pressing problems of the industry. In addition, It offers opportunities to promote tourism resources of Ethiopia and that of East Africa. It also serves as an effective platform to support and advise policymakers.
“We have established links with tourism Boards of Kenya, Tanzania, and Dubai. We organized B2B events in Addis Ababa during the last 2 years. In addition, our Association was invited to attend B2B events in Zanzibar.”
How do you describe your relationship with concerned bodies like local cultural and tourism offices and the like?
Our relationship with Federal Tourism authorities can be described as good partners who are striving to change the situation of the travel and tourism sector. We also work closely with Culture and Tourism Bureaus of the Regional States and other tourism-related institutions.
What are the main challenges tour and travel agents face at the moment?
Currently, the Travel and tourism sector of Ethiopia is faced with numerous challenges. Among the challenges, taxation on tour operation activates, utilization of duty-free vehicles imported to offer services to tourists, existence of poor infrastructure at tourist destinations, weak policy and legal framework, lack of organized tourism data, undeveloped domestic tourism, absence of electronic payment systems and lack of competitive human rescue are among the challenges faced by the sector.
What are the efforts your association exerted to solve those challenges? What about the prospects ahead?
Our Association has been exerting a lot of effort to address the above issues. It has been communicating with various ministries and government authorities in its efforts to mend solutions to longstanding problems. The prospects are enormous since tourism has been recognized as one of the main economic sectors by the government recently. Ethiopia’s tourism resources are very huge compared to other well-preforming countries.
Do you have a strategic plan that paves ways to better improve the operation of the agents?
Yes, we do. The plan encompasses four major pillars: advocacy, marketing and promotion, capacity building and networking. All our activities are anchored on the four strategic pillars.
Do you have links with related international institutions? If so, who are they, and what do you do with them?
Yes, we have established links with tourism Boards of Kenya, Tanzania, and Dubai. We organized B2B events in Addis Ababa during the last 2 years. In addition, our Association was invited to attend B2B events in Zanzibar. The Association and its members attended at the B2B event. In Addition, Dubai Tourism Board conducted three B2B events in Addis Ababa and they invited our Association and its members to attend at a familiarization trip and B2B forum in Dubai. The Association and some of its members attended at the FAM trip and. B2B. We have also established links with Kenyan, Indonesian and US Tour Operator Associations.
Describe the relations you have with hotels at regional and national levels?
Our tour operators work very closely with hotels, lodges, and restaurants situated all over the county. We also closely work with hotel Associations at national and regional levels.