Saturday, July 4, 2009

WB approves 35 mln USD credit to Ethiopia’s sustainable tourism dev’t

Addis Ababa, July 2, 2009 - The World Bank on Tuesday approved the first-ever sustainable tourism development project in Sub-Saharan Africa, a 35 million US Dollars Credit to the Government of Ethiopia.

In a statement it sent to ENA on Thursday, the bank said the credit is given to enable tourism contribute for sustainable overall development whilst preserving and enhancing the country’s social, cultural and environmental assets.

The statement said “the Ethiopian tourism sector, which accounts for about 15 per cent of foreign currency earnings, represents the third largest export earner and has significant growth potential.”

Since 2005, the bank said, the government has given increased attention to the sector and aims to put the country among the top 10 African tourist destinations by the year 2020, it said.

This requires important investments in the preservation of cultural assets, the development of infrastructure and tourism facilities, skills enhancement, institutional development and community engagement, it noted.

“The proposed project provides much needed assistance to Ethiopia to unleash the unique potential of Ethiopia’s tourism sector through product improvement, market development and capabilities enhancement.”, the statement quoted Francois Nankobogo, the Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project as having said.

The objective of the Sustainable Tourism Development Project for Ethiopia is to enhance the quality and variety of tourism products and services in targeted destinations so as to increase the volume of tourism, foreign exchange earnings, and jobs.

According to the statement the project has four components that include destination , market and institutional developments, capacity building and implementation support and results monitoring.

The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism over a period of five years.

Currently, Ethiopia’s main tourist destination is the northern historic route which includes the sites of Lalibela and Axum. Addis Ababa, the principal gateway to the rest of the country, is in its own right a major destination and a leading conference venue in sub-Saharan Africa.

Several emerging destinations in southern, western and eastern Ethiopia offer a wide range of historic, cultural and natural attractions. The total number of international tourist arrivals in Ethiopia, although growing (from 148,000 in 2001 to around 303,000 in 2007), is by no means commensurate with the potential of the country's attractions. The proposed project will help reduce some of the constraints so as to improve the living standards of the population.