Opportunities for Ethiopian diaspora in tourism sector

BY ANDUALEM SISAY GESSESSE – As of last week, Ethiopia is welcoming its diaspora who accepted the Great home coming challenge of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who invited them to celebrate Ethiopian Christmas (Genna) at home.

He made the call following the pressure by the United States Government’s continuous urge for expats in Ethiopia to leave the country immediately. The U.S. Embassy has been issuing a statement almost everyday telling foreigners in Ethiopia to leave the country claiming that Addis Ababa is not safe and surrounded by the rebels.

Indeed, at some point the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) were advancing to capture Addis Ababa getting close some 160 kilometers. Meanwhile their advance to the capital is reversed when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed decided to lead the battle on the frontline about a month ago and liberated all the towns in Amhara and Afar regions from the Front, which is designated as a terrorist group.

Prime Minister Abiy called on one million Ethiopians in the diaspora following the liberation of some of the areas in Amhara and Afar regions from the TPLF.

The invitation extended for the Ethiopian diaspora is taken by many people as a response to the U.S. and some European countries highly affiliated with TPLF and are allegedly working to bring violent regime change in Ethiopia.

Prior the Great home coming invitation of Prime Minister Abiy, for months tens of thousands of Ethiopians in the diaspora – from Washington to Paris and Switzerland, from Canada to South Africa, Australia, and Brussels, have been organizing demonstrations opposing the meddling of U.S. and its allies in the internal affairs of Ethiopia.

In addition to organizing demonstrations the Ethiopians in the diaspora have also mobilized huge resources to help the national defense force of Ethiopia and millions of civilians displaced and affected by the TPLF-initiated war on November 3, 2020.

Some people also interpreted the invitation of Prime Minister Abiy for one million diasporas as a measure that aims to strengthen Ethiopia’s ties with its diaspora and its economy.

The Government of Ethiopia and the Diaspora Agency in Addis Ababa have prepared various events and tours for the Ethiopia diaspora coming for the holiday. Some of the events include visiting the areas damaged by the war and intervention and investment areas.

In my previous few articles, I have reflected on the investment opportunities Ethiopia can offer for its diaspora in modern agriculture and mining if they organize themselves in group.

As I promised I want to touch on the opportunities in tourism sector, which Ethiopians in the diaspora who are now at home accepting Prime Minister Abiy’s invitation can take advantage of before they leave.
Tourism sector is one of the most untapped potential investment areas of Ethiopia. The weather the landscape historic and archeological sites and heritages of the country makes Ethiopia one of the top tourist destinations if well invested in the sector.

The recent Gebeta LeSheger project launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, which created new tourist destinations in Ethiopia is a clear example how rewarding the tourism sector can be. The country has collected millions of dollars from the people who have vested these recently developed recreation areas in the capital.

The people who visited the areas are both local and foreigners. This shows that there is a huge demand for such recreation sites by both local people and tourists coming to the country. That is why currently Gebeta Lesheger is expanded into Gebeta LeHager. Under Gebeta Lehager, three major potential tourist destinations are being developed. These are Wenchi Crater Lake area in Oromia region, Gorgora in Amhara region, and Koisha / Chereba Churchura in Southern region of Ethiopia.

As these ecotourism sites are expected to be completed soon, Ethiopians in the diaspora I think need to organize themselves in group and invest in lodges and hotels in these areas. A few hundreds of Ethiopian diaspora let’s say from Verginia, USA, can leave their mark on these tourist destinations.

If we say one diaspora from Virginia can invest $5,000 and let’s say 1,000 Ethiopians in Virginia are interested in this investment, they can raise half a million dollar and have their own world class resorts and hotel at Gorgora at Wenchi or at Cherba Churchura.

They can even have one at each location. All they have to do could be increasing the contribution of each Ethiopian diaspora in Virginia or the number of shareholders. If the former Ethiopian refugee in Sudan Tadiwos Getachew alone has managed to build Kuruftu Lodge brand with several branches across Ethiopia, then it will not be a big deal for hundreds of Ethiopians to do the same and leave your marks on the development of Ethiopia and its tourism sector.

By doing so, you will be able to create hundreds of jobs for Ethiopians, millions of taxes from your businesses and hard currencies from tourists who stay at your lodges and hotels.

You can imagine how fast the tourism sector of Ethiopia will be developed if Ethiopia diaspora in Canada, England, Germany, South Africa, etc have organized themselves in hundreds and invested in such projects.

In addition to the three tourist destinations being developed under Gebeta Lehager, you can also take advantage of developing lodges and hotels and related entertainments along the 240 kilometers length artificial lake created behind the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

In addition to the profit these lodges and hotels can generate for you, don’t you think it will be worth to spend your vacations with your loved ones at your own properties with discount?

I urge you – Ethiopian diasporas – to think of big projects that liberates our country from foreign aid and unreliable and fake foreign investments. You have already demonstrated what you can achieve when you come together against the meddling of U.S. and its allies in the internal affairs of your motherland.

I believe such investment is one of the major things you need to do in your lifetime in order to further demonstrate your strength and cement your relationship to your motherland Ethiopia and its people.

So, my advice is before you leave Ethiopia after celebrating Genna and Timket, please organize your selves involving some of your friends from where you came from and discuss with the Ethiopian Diaspora Agency or/Ministry of Tourism or/and Investment Agency or/and Ministry of Foreign Affairs on how you can get together in hundreds and invest in the development of the untapped tourism sector of Ethiopia.

At this stage I advise you not to think of the money. First always the willingness and commitment are they for business success. Let alone who practically demonstrated your unshakable love and support to your motherland, fake investors from across the world have managed to access loans from Government banks.

Just setup a team before you leave and mobilize resources when you return back to where you came from. Let’s not forget that Ethiopia’s prosperity is in the hands of all Ethiopians. It is not in the hands of our donors or so called ‘foreign investors’!

I don’t know about you guys; in my view it will be naïve to expect American or European or Egyptian or Chinese investors work for the development of our country genuinely while carrying their national geopolitical interest at the back of their mind.

I wish you all the best and success and happy to link you with the right investment consulting firms. Enjoy your stay and holidays in Ethiopia!

Finally, my message to the Ministry of Tourism of Ethiopia is expand and modernize hospitality education. In my humble opinion, language and service quality should be taken as keys for the success of Ethiopia’s tourism sector development.

In addition to English, one hospitality student be it a tour guide or a waiter, she or he has to master another one international language such as Kiswahili, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, etc before graduating.