Different international media witnesses that Ethiopia owns plenty of unique natural and manmade identifications. Lucy, the cradle of mankind where humans first walked on two legs was originated from the country. The longest river, Blue Nile makes its longest runoff and takes its largest water sourced from the country’s highland. The River is listed in the Bible being the origin of ancient civilization having a non-stop power of yearlong flow.
According to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) handbook on tourism destination, branding tourism has become one of the world’s fastest growing economic sectors in recent years. Governments around the world are increasingly recognizing the power of tourism in boosting their nations’ development and prosperity. As more tourism destinations emerge and competition for visitors becomes more intense, a destination’s potential to project itself on the world stage and differentiate itself from others is ever more important.
Ethiopia though has plenty of tangible and intangible natural, historic, cultural and religious heritages; it has not done at the desired level in the smokeless industry. To utilize the untapped potential of the sector, it requires rightful and tangible move towards motivating, leading and promoting the sector in coordinated manner. Competitive, skillful and experienced human power which is one of the crucial criteria to enhance the sector should be strengthen. Thus, while thinking tourism sector development, it needs to initiate pioneering institutions involved in providing well organized training in the sector.
Recently, the Amhara State has set a new direction to develop source of Abay River, Sekela for tourism. The new strategy of developing a tourism project at the source of Abay River has been introduced with the aim of harnessing the potential of the area and attracting huge local and international tourists to the destination.
Pertinent stakeholders have consulted on how to develop the Sekela tourism project and the success of the project with various high ranking national and state officials as well as other experts.
During the fourth Ghion Day celebration at the source of Abay River; Sekela Woreda near Gish hill, Amhara State President Yilkal Kefale (PhD) said that currently the Ethiopian government has given due priority towards harnessing the country’s untapped tourism potentials. Developing such tourist destinations will have greater role towards creating huge job opportunities to the future generations and improve peoples’ living conditions.
“Abay is a historically, blessed, and internationally known River. Thus, undertaking such tourism projects around the River will have a significant contribution towards attracting numerous local and international tourists. The State’s government will work closely with pertinent stakeholders like Universities, private investors, experts, among others to develop the Sekela; Abay River’s source for tourism,” he underscored.
As to him, it is time to properly utilize the River’s water and fulfill the country’s socio-economic development endeavors within a short period. “We are hopeful that we will realize our objective if we are united against all odds and work in strong commitment. The annual Ghion Day celebration immensely helps to promote Sekela’s tourism and investment potentials and largely creates awareness about the exact source of the River.”
The President also ordered a new committee led by Bahir Dar University and Debre Markos University presidents to be established and start the project implementation very soon. He also urged experts, investors, residents of the area, among others for their genuine participation towards the project accomplishment.
In addition, tourism experts highlighted that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) would become a new potential hope for the country’s reviving tourism and entertainment sector. In order to harness this potential, it is crucial to undertake various tasks on tourist service facilities and expansions around the construction site of the Dam. Availability of competitive services around the project site will be prioritized to the luxurious tourists’ demand.
Moreover, various infrastructural developments (road, telecommunication, airport, hotels and resorts) along the course of the Dam are important in which massive investors are expected to join and invest on different tourist service rendering organizations.
Currently, studies are being conducted for the construction of tour and travel services, lodges, hotels and resorts as well as parks and recreational centers around the GERD project site.
On the other hand, other tourist serving organizations are expected to be opened for GERD visitors in line with the Dam’s accomplishment. The huge artificial lake which could be created following the accomplishment of the construction of GERD will become one of the largest human made tourist destinations of Ethiopia.
Ministry of Tourism Advisor to the Minister Getnet Yigzaw told The that the Dam has significant roles to the growing tourism and entertainment sector. In the past, domestic and international tourist flow has been mounting to Gondar, Lalibela, Axum, Harar, Tana monasteries as well as to national parks and other Ethiopian unique tourist destinations. The Ethiopian airlines will have more flights to Guba, the GERD project site in the near future. Following the accomplishment of the GERD, Guba is expected to become a new potential hotspot for tourists.
According to him, joint collaboration of destination management, marketing and promotion as well as other actors in the sector is fundamental to utilize the untapped tourism potential of the nation. Modern tourism is closely linked to development and encompasses growing number of new tourism destinations. These dynamics have turned tourism into a key driver for socio-economic progress. Active participation of the private sectors, water expertise and the public at large is needed to utilize the country’s new water based tourism component.
Hydropower, tourism, navigation (water transportation), fishery, conducting studies on water bodies and other services makes the GERD a multipurpose project and potential to the country’s economic growth by boosting its earning from the untapped tourism sector.
In sum, nowadays tourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. Tourism has become one of the major players in international commerce, and represents at the same time one of the main income sources for many developing countries. The business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles. This growth goes hand in hand with and increasing diversification and competition among tourist destinations.
Accordingly, the source of Abay River (Sekela), Tis Esat Fall, and GERD embrace untapped tourism potentials to attract numerous local and international tourists.
BY TEWODROS KASSA
25 FEBRUARY 2022