Ethiopia's tourism sector that has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past seven months, will fully be reopened until the end of this October, Tourism Ethiopia announced.
In an exclusive interview with ENA, Tourism Ethiopia Director-General, Sileshi Girma said most of tourism facilities including hotels, tour operators and tourist destinations in Ethiopia have stopped operations because of the pandemic over the past months and this has been hugely affecting the sector.
The government has tried to help the sector ease these challenges posed by COVID-19 by providing loans with low interests and other incentives, he noted.
However, it has decided to reopen the industry soon as extending the closure would further distress the sector and affect the national economy at large, the Director-General indicated.
According to Sileshi, the sector will be open for international tourists based on the National Travelers Safety Protocol developed by the country to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the safety of tourists.
The protocol is expected to be implemented by all stakeholders in the industry including hotels, tour and travel agencies, tour operators, and tourist destinations, he stated.
He pointed out that hotels, tourist destinations and tour operators are preparing themselves by disinfecting their facilities, training their employees on how to host the gusts based on the protocol.
"In this way we can make sure that our tourists will visit the country with the necessary precocious measures to protecting themselves from COVID-19 as well as to contain the pandemic", he said.
General Manger of the Addis Ababa Hotel Owners' Association, Daniel Birehanu said members of the association have been working on the necessary preparations to reopening their hotels with vital precocious measures.
According to him, the association has currently been providing special certificates to hotels that are proved to be qualified to render services free from the risk of COVID-19 and build customers' confidence.
"Almost 80 percents of our hotels were closed because of COVID-19. But now, we have discussed with the relevant actors to reopen services. Thus, currently the hotels are recalling their discharged employees because of COVID-19 and making the necessary preparations to resume services", he said.
President of Ethiopian Hotel Marketing Association, Getahun Alemu on his part said that his association is working to reestablish international market in a bid to help the hotels reinvigorate.
"We are working to find hotel markets for the hotels that are certified with the national traveler's safety protocol. So the hotels will sign a memorandum of understanding with other hotels outside of Ethiopia to work on tourist exchanges which are very important to increase the flow of tourists to Ethiopia."
According to him, the association is preparing to sign a memorandum of understanding with Kenyan Hotel marketing association to create linkage between hotels in Ethiopia and Kenya.
As several new tourist destinations have currently been opening in Ethiopia including in the capital, the year 2021 will be a big opportunity for the tourism sector in the country, he noted.