Tourism holds key to long-term prosperity, says diplomat
Ethiopia will take more steps to attract Chinese tourists such as making visa applications easier, improving service and increasing flights between the two countries, Ethiopian representatives have said. "Ethiopia is open and ready for business," said Tesfaye Yilma Sabo, Ethiopia's deputy ambassador to China, at a tourism seminar held in the Ethiopian embassy in Beijing on April 16.
The diplomat said that tourism was important for the country's long-term economic development .
Ethiopia has experienced annual double-digit economic growth for the past few years and China has become Ethiopia's biggest investor and trading partner. Ethiopia is an important market for China's products, equipment, technology and investment.
He said there are lots of Chinese businesspeople living in Ethiopia, and that the country is welcoming more tourists. Simplifying the visa application process would attract more visitors. Solomon Tadesse, CEO of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization, said the Chinese market means a lot to Ethiopia.
"Many Chinese people don't really know about Ethiopia, so it is very important to introduce it to them. There are not that many of them, but we are looking for them to come."
He said that Ethiopia is a country that has many similarities with China: It has many natural resources, natural beauty, and also 80 different ethnic groups with different languages.
"We were never colonized, so there is indigenous culture here. For the Chinese it could be something very unique, it is a country with different languages and nationalities living together."
He also said the country is making efforts to ensure sustainable peace. "When people come to Ethiopia, they can actually walk anytime and anywhere. Moreover, all the tourism destinations are being properly organized.
"Ethiopia has been described in a wrong way by the Western media, but that is not the reality. The reality is that it is a country where you can come," he says.
Konjit Tedla, China sales and services director at Ethiopian Airlines, said his company has a service for Chinese people. The company has about 28 flights a week from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong to Ethiopia. The aircraft are around 80 percent full, and about 400,000 Chinese passengers a year fly to Ethiopia and to other parts of the world.
"In the future, we plan to fly also from either Chongqing or Chengdu," she said.
To better serve Chinese customers, they have a 24-hour customer service center in Chinese, a Chinese website, a Chinese speaking customer service help desk in Addis Ababa and Chinese flight attendants. They have also marked all the signs in Addis Ababa airport with Chinese words.
"China is the biggest market for us," she said. "We also plan to increase the frequency of our flights to better serve our Chinese passengers and connect China to Africa. "
(China Daily Africa Weekly 04/24/2015 page22)