Addis Ababa — ECA's deputy executive secretary, Giovanie Biha, handed over Ethiopia's Tourism Master Plan to the country's minister of tourism and culture, Mrs. Aisha Mohammed Mussa.
The master plan, which is meant to guide tourism activities in Ethiopia for the next ten years, was developed by ECA in collaboration with Ethiopia's ministry of tourism and culture.
Speaking at the event, Mrs. Biha applauded Ethiopia's efforts to boost tourism, which she described as a sector that could speed up the much-needed structural transformation in Africa.
"In 2015, the value of the industry in Africa stood at over USD 180 billion, accounting for 8% of the continent's GDP," said Mrs. Biha. "This exceeds the contributions from manufacturing and the banking sector."
The deputy executive secretary, however, deplored the fact that the global share of Africa's tourism was only 3% of USD 7.6 trillion in 2015.
"That's why ECA is relentless in its efforts to address the impediments to regional tourism development, including connectivity across the continent," Mrs. Biha added.
In 2011, ECA commissioned a study to examine opportunities and challenges of tourism in Eastern Africa. The study concluded, among other things, that a regional framework to address challenges facing tourism in the region was needed.
Based on this recommendation, IGAD developed a master plan with technical support from ECA. According to Geoffrey Manyara, an ECA Economic Affairs Officer who helped develop the master plan, member-states were spurred to action by IGAD's regional framework.
"The IGAD master plan recommended that member states with tourism development instruments in place should have them aligned to IGAD's regional master plan," said Mr. Manyara. "A number of member-states then approached ECA to help develop their respective master plan. So, we started Ethiopia's in 2013 and finished in 2015."
Uganda's tourism master plan was completed in 2014, and work is on-going on the Djibouti master plan.
The handover ceremony took place during a UNWTO regional workshop on tourism in Addis Ababa. In her opening remarks, Mrs. Elcia Grandcourt, director of UNWTO's regional program for Africa, depicted Ethiopian Airlines as a key driving force for the sustainable development of travel and tourism in Africa.
"We commend Ethiopian Airlines for the work done in support of air liberalization in Africa," said Mrs. Grandcourt. " This includes the recent open skies agreement signed between Ethiopia and Rwanda, which denotes the positive impact of regional integration on the tourism sector.