By Tewodros Kassa
Recently Forbes.com listed Ethiopia as one of the seven major tourism destinations in the world during the Post – COVID-19 period. Accordingly, the seven countries have the potential to become major tourist destinations and the rising stars in travel in a post-COVID-19 world.
As the global tourism industry struggles during this unprecedented downturn, many nations around the world are preparing for a boom in international visitors once travel is more feasible – for some countries, this could be their first opportunity to establish themselves as a prominent regional force for tourism. While the countries have yet to become world-class destinations, the ingredients are all there – pristine natural beauty, historic ruins, and fascinating cultural experiences that can be encountered in abundance across all seven of these highly underrated nations.
Forbes indicates that out of the 54 nations that make up Africa, one could make the argument that Ethiopia has the most fascinating historic background. It was the second civilization on earth to adopt Christianity, one of the first countries for Islamic religion to be introduced, was the only African nation to defeat a European power in battle and resist colonialism during the Scramble for Africa, and it is believed that our earliest human ancestors first came from this fertile region. Visitors to this unique country will find a truly diverse scope of natural beauty – the western edges of Ethiopia are home to lush rainforest, which quickly gives way to the towering peaks of the Ethiopian Highlands as one venture east. If the rich history and spectacular natural sites do not propel this nation to stardom, the national cuisine surely will – eating Enjera by hand is a cultural experience that everybody should take part in at least once in their life.
More importantly, Ethiopia is investing more in the tourism sector. For instance, Tourism Ethiopia is undertaking tourist destination development projects throughout the country. Private investors are free to involve actively in the sector including in the business of international standardized hotels, lodges, and tour operators.
Recognizing its tangible contribution to the national economy, countries are investing more in the sector. Even if, its terminologies were peculiar in Ethiopia, it has become very common within the past three to five years. Following its significant contribution to generating foreign exchange and attracting more tourists, the government of Ethiopia allocates funds to widen investment in the tourism sector.
Currently, the construction of the three billion Birr Addis Africa International Convention and Exhibition Center (AAICEC) is taking shape in the center of the city. Its construction is being undertaken by private investors in collaboration with the Addis Ababa City Government.
AAICEC Board Chair and OZZIE International Project Consultancy CEO KumnegerTeketel told The Ethiopian Herald that the cost of the construction is covered with the sell of shares. Various businesses are showing increasing interest in buying shares of this multipurpose international convention and exhibition center, he added.
AAICEC Board is working with the utmost commitment to accomplish the construction on the slated time. The construction of the AAICEC project is going well and is set to be completed in 2021/22. Realizing this project highly stimulates the tourism sector.
According to him, the project has attracted different sector actors, professionals, Diasporas, and CEOs. Banks, members of the Ethiopian Diasporas, businessmen, as well as private and public organizations are showing increasing interest in buying project shares.
The activities of the MICE industry are an increasingly significant element in the future growth of the global economy, an essential part of the spread of knowledge and professional practices, and a key factor in building better understanding and relations amongst different regions and cultures.
There are several opportunities in the Meetings Industry. Supporting other businesses, promoting investment, trade, communications, and technology as well as bringing education and professional development to the local community through attracting global expertise and creating jobs and retaining workforces are the outstanding contributions of the MICE sector.
Besides, it promotes a green economy since it is practised with environmental quality prioritized services. More importantly, MICE accelerates the spread of knowledge worldwide and promotes global understanding and cooperation during this era of globalization.
AAICEC General Manager Ayalew Abey said that this project is a golden project to the country and its completion will have a significant contribution to the country’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry.
The first phase project alone will consume more than 1.2 billion Birr while it needs about three billion Birr to accomplish the total project. The selling of shares is the main source of finance for carrying out the project. So far, giant companies and 900 individuals have bought shares whose value is close to one billion Birr. With 700 million Birr worth of shares, the Addis Ababa City Government is the largest shareholder. The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Ethio-South S.C (South African Diaspora Community) are the second and third largest shareholders with 150 million and 115 million Birr worth shares respectively.
A Chinese contractor CGCOC GROUP CO. LTD is undertaking the project’s construction day and night to inaugurate and avail it to the MICE market on time.
According to the General Manager, the Center will reinforce the country’s business environment, particularly the aviation and hotel industries. Auditoriums, amphitheatre, underground parking for close to 3,000 cars, and other luxurious service centers are part of the project.
Experts in the sector were repeatedly raising the need to build a standardized convention center in the country. Considering the many outcomes of the Center they applaud this center’s commencement to play a positive role image building of the country, generating hard currency and attracting foreign direct investment.
Accordingly, Addis Ababa hosts huge international and continental conferences and conventions, workshops, business to business (B2B) sessions and exhibitions which are now becoming the new manifestations of the city. Being Head Quarter of the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) enables the city to read more from the MICE industry.
More than 10,000 conference participants visit Ethiopia monthly, a source from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Sports indicates.
According to, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) global report on the Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry underlined the contribution of the sector’s increment to the global economy. MICE include conventions, conferences, congresses, trade shows and exhibitions, incentive events, corporate/business meetings, and other meetings are usually done to confer or carry out a particular activity.