Since the past one year, the tourism sector has seen massive undertakings. New tourist destinations are popping up and the existing ones that are already blessed with diverse attractions are getting renovated and expanded by means of various development and revitalization activities, such as renewal of worn out buildings, expansion of infrastructure and numerous facilities and furnishing them with recreational equipment.
Remarkably, in the capital Addis Ababa, areas left unnoticed and neglected for longer years, have been developed and renovated in a bid to increase the attractiveness of the spots for visitors, give a new lease of life for the communities, make Addis Ababa live up to its name plus to tap the blessings and opportunities of the city.
The projects initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, including the Addis Ababa Riverside Green Development Project, Sheger Beautifying , the renovation and expansion of Unity Park are the best manifestations in this regard.
Currently, the projects are bearing fruits. Last Saturday, The Entoto Natural Park was inaugurated by the Premier in the presence of high government officials and invited guests.
As it is stated repeatedly, the Park located in north of Addis Ababa is equipped with various indoor and outdoor facilities, such as sport centers, library, restaurants and coffee shops, horseback riding, bike ride. What is more, it has got fountain and artificial lake. The facilities in turn, have created job opportunities for many women who were leading miserable life by carrying firewood.
Speaking on the ceremony, Prime Minister Abiy said that the Park demonstrates the capacity of Ethiopians to achieve big things when united.
The development of tourism projects will continue in different parts of the country as Ethiopia is a country with untapped huge tourism potential.
The Premier also extended gratitude to those who have contributed for the construction of the park, which is part of the Beautifying Sheger Project.
As to Prime Minister Abiy, the cooperation and support of development partners is critical to transform Ethiopia. Thus, he called on investors to take part in the forthcoming "Dine for Nation" program (a resource mobilization program designed to raise 3 billion Birr for development projects in Gorgora, Koysha and Wonchi in Amhara, Southern Nations and Nationalities and People and Oromia states) just in similar commitment and dedication as they did during the five million Birr dinner organized to raise funds for the Sheger Beautifying Project.
Entoto Natural Park is an emblem of national pride for Ethiopians, the Premier posted in his facebook page. "100 percent conceptualized, designed and built by Ethiopians, the Park is an embodiment of our worth and our capacity to generate and build big ideas", he added.
True, the Park, beyond being a means to lessen the burden of unemployment, developing economies and secure better quality of life, is a sign of Ethiopians' commitment, keenness and dedication to realize what they aspire to do.
Not only that, but it is also a model project that inspires Africans who are blessed with enormous untapped natural, cultural and historic tourist attractions; but not exploited accordingly- as a tool to alleviating poverty and economic development. This was underscored by foreigners approached by the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).
Burkina Faso Ambassador to Ethiopia, Leopold Tonguenoma told ENA that the tourism sector should have a strong role in Africa in the job creation agenda.
Ethiopia has huge potential for the tourism industry and the Entoto Natural Park will have tremendous contribution in boosting the sector in the country, he pointed out.
"Tourism sector is a great sector to provide job opportunities for our countries mainly Ethiopia is a great nation that has many potentialities. For us, it is really a big project it could inspire other African countries to do so to take an example for Ethiopia and to go ahead. We really appreciate this project," the Ambassador said.
He also stated the park can encourage other African countries to exemplar Ethiopia and undertake similar initiatives for their tourism sector development.
Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia, Raphael Morav on his part said Ethiopia is expected to be a tourist destination of the continent as it is the diplomatic seat of Africa.
"Ethiopia is a diplomatic capital of Africa and deserves to be a hub of tourism in Africa. In this respect, I am very pleased to see this Addis Ababa's beautification and having more and more tourist attractions and I think that is the right path to development," he said.
The Ambassador added that Ethiopia has huge potential for tourism and it is one of the locomotives to bring about the economy to much higher level.
Unquestionably, tourism has indispensible role for employment generation and developing economies. By benefitting communities in destinations and improving the social and economic landscape of a given country, it performs important functions to ensure sustainable development. In this regard, the development and renovation of the sites has a deep meaning further than economic value- they reflect Ethiopians' commitment and unity.
As it is stated over and over again, Ethiopia is endowed with a myriad of natural, historic and cultural tourist attractions. Developing, renovating and expanding these attractions lead to economic development. For that reason, the active participation of all stakeholders is key to achieving sustainable tourism.