24 March 2019

Ethiopia: U.S. Tour Operators' Eyes On Ethiopia

Addis Ababa — Ethiopia's performance in the tourism sector has attracted the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), which arrived today in Addis Ababa.

The Association has decided to hold its 2019 USTOA out of country meeting in Ethiopia and assess the country's potential because of the World Tour and Tourism Council's report on Ethiopia.

Briefing the media this morning, CEO of the Association, Terry Dale said the decision came after realizing that Ethiopia was among the top 10 emerging tourist destinations, and tourism has been increasing significantly.

Ethiopia's Travel and Tourism Economy grew by 46.8 percent in 2018, the largest of any country in the world, according to World Tour and Tourism Council's review on the economic impact and social importance of the sector.

During their week-long stay, they will hold annual meeting which focuses on the achievements of the association for the first quarter of 2019 and put direction for the months to come.

Some 40 people drawn from active members of the association have come to Ethiopia to attend the out of the country meeting and assess the business potential in the country.

On the margin of the meeting, the members will discuss with local tour operators on ways of building partnership.

Saying that that the country generates 7.4 billion USD and created 2 million employment opportunities, he said "You are absolutely on your way."

The CEO said "The responsibility of the tour operators will be that they go back to their organizations share what they experienced, and they will start creating product; identify the hotel to use, the attraction they want to have part of the experience, how much this is going to cost and they start marketing it."

"In this regard, we can be helpful in telling the story of the country back in the United States," Dale added.

General Director of Tourism Ethiopia, Lensa Mekonnen said on her part that Ethiopia has the potential to be a favorite tourist destination for U.S nationals.

She said the USTOA team will have a crucial role in promoting the country's tourist destinations more.

Noting that they come here to identify the packages useful for their market, Lensa said "we will prepare the markets for them based on their system and feedback."

The participants of the meeting will also head to the northern part of the country to visit Bahr Dar, Gondar and Lalibela, which are known for their attractions.

Founded in 1972, USTOA is a professional, voluntary trade association created with the primary purpose of promoting integrity within the tour operator industry.

The Association is not a tour operator and it does not conduct tours, but the members, which are tour operators, do the job.

The USTOA Active members account for a sizeable portion of the tour operator market in North America, listed 166 Member Brands.

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