30 December 2012

Ethiopia: Tourist Hotel Deemed Unsanitary, Shut Down

Authorities have shut down Tourist International Hotel, a landmark establishment, up in Arat Kilo area, on December 21, 2012, claiming unsanitary rooms and facilities.

The Trade & Industry Bureau,of Arada District, made the decision, based on a notice written by the Addis Ababa City Culture & Tourism Bureau (AACCTA), on November 29, 2012.

Previously, on December 16, 2011, based on comments from customers, the Addis Ababa City Culture & Tourism Bureau had given two warnings to the Hotel, and insisted that they improve the educational level of employees within a month's time. The Bureau also issued a second warning on February 17, 2012, whilst the owner was abroad, for which the representative of the owner was not willing to comply, within the given time, according to Aschalew Bogale, the Bureau's Professional License & Regulatory Department leader.

The decision to close the Hotel down eventually came after over 50 employees of the Addis Abeba and regional cultural tourism bureaus came to stay at the hotel, for a three-day meeting, from April, 24 to 27, 2012. Most of the participants of the meeting reported complaints, including; an insufficient number of toilets and floor boards that have holes, to the Bureau, according to Aschalew.

Following this, according to Aschalew, a team from the Bureau went to investigate the condition of the Hotel, on November 28, 2012, and wrote a letter to the Hotel, suspending its license.

Agreeing with the observation of the Bureau, Alemtsehay Tegegnwerk, owner of the Hotel, accused the Government Housing Agency (GHA), which owns the building, for failing to give a permit to her to renew the building lease or, alternatively, to purchase it.

"The rooms are too narrow to decorate and there is no place to install toilets for each room", Alemtsehay told Fortune.

The building was built during Haile Selassie's regime and is still under the GHA, to this day. Alemtsehay bought the business 15 years ago, after the government privatised it. Since then she has been paying 118,000 Br per month, in rent to the Agency, according to sources close to the issue.

The building, however, has not been privatised and Alemstehay can only renovate the building by shutting down the Hotel, said an official at the Agency, who requested anonymity.

The Bureau has given Alemtsehay 15 to 30 days, however, to correct the deficits, according to Aschalew.

"She has to do this and report to us within the given time, which is up to January 20, 2013."

Alemtsehay claims, however, that although she is willing to do whatever the Bureau asks, it will not be possible, because she has not been able to access the building, since it was closed by the Bureau.

"I will continue to ask the Bureau to open the building next week so that I can do the necessary work," Alemtsehay told Fortune.

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