Ethiopian Ministry of Tourism and UNESCO discuss joint efforts to promote sustainable tourism
Ethiopia and Africa at large, have the most cultural and natural heritage resources, yet the least inscribed in the World heritage sites. This formed part of the discussion on how to promote sustainable tourism in Ethiopia, between Prof Hubert Gijzen, Regional Director and Representative UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, when he paid a courtesy call to H.E. Ambassador Nassise Chali, Minister of Tourism in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, accompanied by Mr Sileshi Girma, State Minister.
The officials appreciated the long-standing collaboration between UNESCO and the government of Ethiopia and the need to do more to promote the rich cultural and natural Ethiopian heritage, through sustainable tourism and with the community at the centre.
H.E. Ambassador Nassise Chali, enumerated the opportunities and challenges in the field of natural and cultural heritage, both at the regional and national level. Emphasising the potential of the rich cultural and natural resources of the country, the Minister stated that the tourism sector in now one of the top five strategic economic sectors in Ethiopia. The Minister further stressed on the human and institutional capacity challenges related to infrastructure, site protection, development, promotion, branding, etc. coupled with limitations in provision of quality service. Furthermore, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, which has further aggravated by the conflict and the adverse propaganda campaign, brought the tourist flow to the standstill. This situation affected the livelihood of the community by and large depend on tourism activities.
Prof. Gijzen welcomed the Ministry’s a well laid out strategy for sustainable tourism in the country and pledged UNESCO’s continued support within the framework of the new regional support strategy, to consolidate a comprehensive flagship project rather than fragmented smaller interventions. He further proposed linking the capacity deficit of Ethiopia Tourism sector, with the UNESCO’s regional project “Green TVET‘’, and emphasised on digital promotion, improving hospitality, eco-tourism and creative industries as well as enhancing the community skills and benefit.
The UNESCO Regional Director noted the Ministry’s concern on lack of sufficient representation of African World Heritage sites on the Global List and the capacity gaps for experts working on developing nomination files. The Director assured that UNESCO would further foster the partnership with the Ministry and continue its support in addressing the concerns of the Member States. Furthermore, UNESCO is there to facilitate Member States in enhancing the right partnerships with other regional and world bodies which have other mandates beneficial to the Ethiopia tourism sector.