"The Ethiopian hospitality industry has grown quickly over the last few years, and there remains a lot of untapped potential. Exploiting these opportunities with the help of new technologies, and accommodation service providers will support the country’s initiative to become one of Africa's top five destinations in the coming four years. The challenges are abundant but the future is inspiring, and we look forward to bringing the intended growth and progress into reality."
Paul Midy - CEO Jumia Travel
After a decade of success, there's a decrease in GDP growth
Tourism contributed directly to 4.1% of Ethiopia’s GDP in 2015
With 94 million, Ethiopia is the 2nd nation in Africa
Only 4.4% of the total population has internet connection
How do you assess the Ethiopian tourism progress and future expectations?
Ethiopia is unique and there is a growing awareness from travellers that there is real diversity here for activities to do and sites to see. I frequently hear from international travellers what a great and surprising experience they have had, and how they will be recommending the country to their friends. It is exactly this kind of feedback that makes Jumia Travel so bullish on the country and we believe that over the medium to longer term growth will continue, and that this will be a significantly larger tourist destination than it is today. As the economy develops we also expect to also see a significant increase in the number of business travellers coming to Addis Ababa.
What is the most important factor Ethiopian tourism should emphasize on to develop the sector?
Value and quality of experience. Travellers want to feel that they are rewarded for the money and time they spend on a trip. Africa can be an expensive continent to travel around and it would be great to see the emergence of great value hotels, driving and flying options that make this country even more accessible to travellers. Though price isn’t everything, it is important that all players in the travel industry deliver a great quality of service and experience.
What are the main challenges for an OTA in Ethiopia?
Implementing our technology and platform can be a challenge. We take time to educate our hotel partners how to self-manage their property on our website, how to improve their profile and how to attract guests. Improving internet access and experienced managers are what helps us overcome these challenges.
What has been the greatest achievement and failure for the Ethiopian tourism?
Since the introduction of tourism at the time of Emperor Haile Selassie, the tourism sector received less attention due to several setbacks such as in infrastructure. Nevertheless, now the government has been able to improve infrastructural problems enabling the industry to move forward in many directions. As part of the new developments, the country established transformation council and Ethiopian Tourism Organization, as well as a board chaired by the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia. All regional presidents as well as tour operators, hotel associations, and private sectors are made part of the new structure so that the industry is reached to its pick. The country is looking for a transformational growth that will take the sector to the next level, marketing Ethiopia locally and internationally to make the country among Africa’s top five destinations. We are also shifting the gear to incorporating technology into the industry.
The recent turmoil has affected the tourism industry in various ways. What was the coping mechanisms used to rescue the industry from a greater impact?
For so many years we have been judged as one story country and little has been told about the development Ethiopia has managed to achieve; not only economically but also socially. Unlike what has been reported by the media, the situation has not targeted the booming number of tourists still visiting our destinations. The current situation has not affected the energy and the determination the country has to take the tourism sector into the next level. It’s also a great achievement that now things are back to normal, allowing the country to implement its plans. The industry is now creating more job opportunities for the high number of unemployed youth, s as Ethiopia continues to strive to become more safe and secure. This has been our coping mechanism.
There is little collaboration with the private sector when it comes to tourism. Is there a new changing trend on this?
Yes there have been little collaboration with the private sector, but now things are moving on the right direction. There is business to business partnership launched through embassy consulates and events to create awareness on the popular destinations, and inviting investors to come and invest in Ethiopia. Obviously, without the involvement of the private sector, the government cannot fulfill its strategies. Both the public and private sectors which are part of the transformation council are looking into the interests of all stakeholders. Media is also another part of our focus as we facilitate familiarity trips so that media and bloggers write about their experiences in Ethiopia, telling the true image of the country to the world.
|Addis Ababa||39%||77 USD|
|Bahir Dar||7.5||40 USD|
How developed is the Hospitality Industry in Ethiopia? What are the main challenges for the luxury hotel Industry in Ethiopia?
The past decade has been great for the hospitality industry because it has grown tremendously. With the growth of the number of tourists came the development of hotels to cope with the demand. The growth pace predicts a good future for the industry with yet a number of chain hotels coming to Ethiopia portraying the huge potential. A major challenge is that most travellers seek none luxurious hotels, while there is a huge number of luxurious accommodation hotels in the country.However big conferences including those conducted by the international organizations usually look for luxurious options for their high profile delegates. This is a great opportunity for luxurious hotels as they can easily access their target markets through such high delegate conferences.
What factors increase a hotel’s popularity?
The key factors to increase hotel popularity has everything to do with the service the hotel offers. If a hotel manages to create comfortable stay and providing a professional service, it will get more preference since guests value service and experience more than the facilities they enjoy during their stay. Providing a great service goes a long way in creating more market and popularity for a particular hotel, especially for returning customers.
How strong is the competition in the industry, and how is it going to be affected by the coming of more chain hotels to Ethiopia? Although not strong, there exists competition in the growing hotel industry and the coming of chain hotels adds a remarkable value to the competition. It will create price competitiveness which will offer best prices to customers while developing the industry further. Furthermore,, competition will encourage local hotels to work harder to have a fair share in the industry, being above the challenges learning best practices of business along the way.
68.7% Foreign visitor spending
31.3% Domestic spending
84.4% Leisure spending
15.6% Business spending
With the growing preference to online reservation in Ethiopia, how do you balance and maintain virtual relation with the human contact element.
In Ethiopian society where people prefer face to face transaction, it sure was not easy to convince and encourage people to trust virtual transactions. However, as people became familiar with the online bookings and developed more trust on virtual transactions, it has become so much easier. The first thing that used to come into people’s minds when they spoke to online travel agents is that a prerecorded machine is talking to them. Nevertheless, speaking to them in Amharic and greeting them warmly first comforts guests, and creates as close as to face to face conversations when they know a human is talking to them on the other line.
How much effort does a single online hotel booking require, from the time the request is made to when a valid booking is made?
Booking experience is different from person to person and from experience on online booking. To those who have prior booking experience the only time they request for help is when the hotel they are booking is fully booked, and when they want to ask for alternative to finish their booking. On the other hand for first time guests, we first introduce them to the Jumia Travel system and how they can filter hotels based on location, prices and popularity and help them make a successful booking. The launch of the new ExtraNet system dramatically transformed the booking experience to guests and hotels, because bookings get easily confirmed in just one click informing both the guest and the hotel about the reservation made.
How much value do customers put to reviews and what is the mechanism to keep customs happy all the time?
Customers put tremendous value to reviews as well as to their personal experience. Most experienced business travelers give little attention to reviews especially when they know the place they are traveling to, while leisure travelers use review as extra precaution about a destination and the accommodation facilities. Leisure travelers tend to trust reviews when they have never been to the accommodation reviewed. Our system encourages guests to give reviews and rating for two purposes: bad reviews will flag problems allowing us to help the hotel to work on and improve the shortcomings while positive reviews provide neutral information to new guests who are planning to book a room at the particular place. The key factor to keep customers happy is to always face any problem they encounter head on, and solve them on time and as per their demand. There is a rare chance that the guests can be at fault however, such information must be communicated with extra care not to offend guests because mistakes can also happen unintentionally.
|Percentage of search||Time before|
|7%||2 to 3 days|
|6%||3 to 4 days|
|5%||4 to 5 days|
|4%||5 to 6 days|
|33%||More than a week|
How effective are the current technology platforms in Ethiopia to advance services?
The two major technology platforms that will assist in the advancement of services are Internet connectivity and mobile phone coverage. The former has still a long way to go in Ethiopia's case as the penetration is around 11%, while the latter has shown better performance with the penetration reaching 44% currently. So, the reach and accessibility will determine the effectiveness of these platforms for services. In addition to the reach, there are issues of localization, percentage of smartphones available, cost of data usage and consistency of connectivity that still need to improve in order to have impact in advancing services in Ethiopia.
What is the most important factor Ethiopia should consider to expand the use of technology in private and public services, and what will it take for Ethiopia to fully take advantage of technology?
Top management in private and public services have the role of considering the benefits of ICT and its ROI, as opposed to considering it as a cost and a burden. It is about time that management included ICT in their yearly plans and budgets as part of the support services to their core businesses. The role of government in adopting policies that enforce public services to embrace technology is also highly instrumental. The availability and cost of Internet connectivity is another contributing factor towards this. Creating a conducive business entry environment and a high level of university-industry linkage through the academic institutions will continually churn young graduates that have technological ideas and with minimal hurdles for them to make businesses out of their ideas.
What could be the most challenging task for Ethiopia to bring technology on its all economic factors?
Most organizations in Ethiopia have tried to embrace technology in one way or another, but assimilation is still a big issue. Technology that gets implemented at a given organization needs to have proper buy-in from top management, an owner to operate and maintain the system, and the necessary skill transfer to all stakeholders so they feel confident in the new change that technology brings about and make it part of their daily activities.
How prepared is Ethiopia in the fight against cyber fraud?
With INSA (Information Network Security Agency) at the forefront, Ethiopia is preparing to fight cyber fraud at a national scale, but there is a lot to be done as the area is highly dynamic and with financial and other incentives behind it, attracting a lot of skilled individual fraudsters around the globe. Most organizations, especially financial institutions that are implementing online systems should also have their own continuous security audit of their systems, since vulnerabilities in systems can be identified years after they have been implemented. It is a 'cat and mouse' game. My take is that, it is important to identify young talent that are interested in working in cyber crime defense as white-hats and involve them so that we are better prepared in the fight against cyber fraud. In addition, continuous training and skill upgrade for those involved in ICT systems is also a key aspect to consider.
The surge in leisure tourism in Ethiopia can be accounted for by the numerous government initiatives, as well as the archaeological findings coupled with scenic views in the various parts of the country. With an internet penetration at an all-time high in Africa, Ethiopia has become a popular destination for Africans wanting to discover the “cradle of humanity”. This hospitality report looks at the development of the tourism sector in Ethiopia including the overall effect of the internet on travel.
The World Bank Group, Business Monitor International (BMI), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Travel and Tourism Council, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Internet world stats, Ethio Telecom, coface.com, African Economic Outlook, Deloitte, African Development Bank, United Nations Development Program, and Jumia Travel Business Intelligence.