BY HIZKEL HAILU
Undoubtedly, Ethiopia is a land of many untapped cultural values that are also accredited and inscribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as intangible heritages. Those cultural values are the basis for identity and unity of the nation’s peoples coupled with their significance to express the peoples’ happiness, sadness or any other emotions.
Showcasing ancient history, picturesque landscapes, joyful festivals and much more, Ethiopia has plenty of choices in width and breadth for curious travelers. Its unique calendar, alphabets, and numerical system are some of the assets that make the country different.
Ethiopia has contributed enormous tangible and intangible heritages for the rest of the world. Meskel or Damera celebration (the founding of the true cross), Timket (Epiphany), Chambalala, Ireecha and other celebrations are among some of the religious and cultural heritages that the country has contributed to the world. Despite some limitations by the Ethiopian government and Ethiopians in promoting such heritages to the entire world to be visited, they are still used as a source of foreign currency for the country.
It is also crystal clear that such resources are gift for the entire world to gain different knowledge and lesson through visiting them. The economic significance of such heritages is also vital for supporting the national economy under the Holyday Tourism sector.
Nevertheless, the destructive movement of TPLF and Shene terrorist groups coupled with the COVID- 19 has harmed the tourism sector for the past years when they attacked some tourist attractions and made visiting them unsafe. The Ethiopian government recently, however, has announced that it is getting ready to receive tourists from each corners of the world through giving guarantee for the visitors as the tourist destinations and surrounding areas are freed from the terrorists.
In his stay with The , Yismashewa Mengstie, a Tour Guide at Gondar City said that the celebration of Ethiopian Timket has high economic significance for the country. Noting that the number of visitors has been increasing after the UNESCO had inscribed Timket on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the outbreak of COVID-19 and the TPLF atrocity have become very challenging factors for the tourism sector in Ethiopia.
Applauding the Ethiopian Diaspora’s response for accepting the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) call to come to their homeland, he explained that the sector is now being highly reinvigorated. As the celebration takes place for three consecutive days (from January 18/19 to 20/21) across Ethiopia, there is a big opportunity for the country to hit its economic advantages, he added.
“Ethiopian Orthodox Christians across the country are marking the three-day Ethiopian epiphany that memorizes the baptism of Jesus Christ, with various assortments of unique and colorful religious and cultural activities. And as I have observed there are many national and foreign visitors here in Gondar that are attending the colorful celebration of Timket.
“What I realized during my stay with some of the foreigners is that they underscored the celebrations are quite unique in Ethiopia, even though the core religious idea attached to the Ethiopian epiphany is similar to other Christians worldwide,” he noted.
Understanding its social, economic and political advantages, both the regional and federal governments are working exhaustively for the peaceful celebration of Epiphany across the country. According to Selamawit Dawit, State Minister at the Ministry of Tourism, the government has done a lot for peaceful celebration of the holyday across the country particularly in the areas where the day is marked in a special way. Addis Ababa, Gondar, Ziway and Erinbuti of Minjar are amongst the remarkable areas where the day is marked colorfully, she noted.
Mentioning readiness of the national committee which has been established for serving the Ethiopian Diasporas who have come to Ethiopia to visit following the Premier’s call, she pointed out that this will be highly important to stimulate the tourism sector which was affected by different challenges. The state Minister has called up on the community to promote Ethiopia’s cherishing culture and arts that can add glory to it.
Adding to the point, she stated that every preliminary activity was taken place in a way to celebrate colorful Timket in Gondar under the theme “Timket at Gondar”. Parallel with the celebration, a panel discussion, visiting tourist attractions, exhibitions and other festivals will also take place in the city of Gondar. As to her, every actors of the tourism sector should work hard in order to get better benefit from it.
Mekonen Abera, an Economist for his part highlighted the Holyday Tourism should get due attention for its vibrant economic, social and political significances. As to him, the government, tour guides and operators and the general community should work hand and glove in order to support the sector.
As Holyday Tourism is amongst the tourism types across the world, which makes the business tourists to boost their business, attending trade fairs and conferences pertaining to commerce or professions, Ethiopia should open its door for the international community to present their products in preparing an international trade fairs parallel with celebrating the day, Mekonen recommended.
As to him, this circumstance will help the foreigners to combine business with recreation using same facilities as provided for holiday tourists. In this case, Ethiopia can also be benefited from the sector in many ways. First, the country will get foreign currency from the tourists’ visit and their stay in Ethiopia. Second, Ethiopians are capable of selling their products for the business tourists in affordable price.
Moreover, it is also momentous for benefiting actors of tourism and the general community as well. Subsequently, the government of Ethiopia should execute its homework in modernizing and developing the Holyday Tourism in Ethiopia for further economic advantages, he suggested.
Despite, the words ‘holyday’ and ‘tourism’ have different concepts; they are interrelated as basis for tourist attraction in a given country. Every tourist who is travelling to visit a country, planning to celebrate a holyday can directly or indirectly inject his or her wealth into the economy of the country he/she visits, he added.
He further stated that, when the tourists purchase different traditional or cultural items, pay entrance fees while visiting different tourist destinations, use transportation and hotel services, the country secures remarkable amount of hard currency that is considered among the advantages from the Holyday Tourism.
Wishing a happy Ethiopian Epiphany for all Christians who are celebrating the Holyday, experts agreed that the Holyday Tourism can highly support the national economic growth if the government, tour guides and other stakeholders work in unison.
The January 19/2022