By Solomon Gebre-Medhin, Ethiopian Herald
The Mursi people, visibly distinguished by lip plates worn by tribeswomen are one feature of the country attraction.
“Home to Lucy, Ardi, the oldest stone tools, the first fossils of modern humans and many other discoveries, Ethiopia deserves the title of Cradle of Humankind,” says Erin Wayman Erin, a science and human evolution blogger for Hominid Hunting in her article entitled ‘The top Ten Human Evolution Discoveries from Ethiopia‘. Above claiming the title, though it is worth having it, the question should be, is the country benefiting from its bountifulness?’
Needless to say, the number of properties the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed on the world heritage list from the soil of Ethiopia made this unique country a leader of the table of heritages compared to the rest of African countries.
Out of the nine heritages registered under the country’s name, eight of them are cultural while the remaining one is natural. Not only the number of the heritages are enticing to know; but also their diversity that ranges from the cultural to natural heritages ubiquitous here in this uniquely sample nation are impressive and alluring elements for influx of foreigners to enjoy the spectacles in such a land, as Dr. Des Manjil Hazarik, a professor of archaeology and heritage management at Makalle University noted.
That is why the country is addressed as a cradle of mankind. Hazarik witnessed, “Ethiopia is known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly for the enormous archaeological record starting from the Palaeolithic to the historic period.”
Did we convert that wealth to our benefit?
However, in the midst of the magnificent tourist destinations, the currency we are gaining is far from matching what the heritages could offer to the least. “According to United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 2013 report, the global tourism flow reaches 1.087 billions and the sector generated 1.07 trillion dollars,” so said Solomon Tadesse, Ethiopian Tourism Organization CEO.
In 2012, the number of tourists visited Africa were 55.7 million; and the income generated that same year was 34 billion dollars. In the middle of abundance, Ethiopia, however, collected only two billion dollars from the sector and visited by 724 thousand tourists in 2013/14, Solomon added.
Discovering the above paradoxically related facts -insufficiency inside abundance- any one who is a subject and/or an individual who admires nature feel motivated to see the spectacles first-hand and admire nature in this horn African country. To the contrary, having witnessed the riches especially, as a citizen one would feel discomfort and regret for failing to generate the potential income via tourism.
Sitting in the midst of abundance and gaining minimal compared to other nations succeeding well ahead in their income generating activities with fewer heritages, there is enough room for one to be washed away by the flood of regret emanated from the missed opportunity.
Apart from the lean gains of the business, the recognition the country has gained in exchange of preserving various heritages that range from cultural to traditional, from spiritual to man made, and so on is yet inadequate. This writer believes that the contribution of the nation and the recognition it gets in return do not match.
Attending one of the biggest meetings held here in the capital, in the Premier’s Office for the 2nd National Assembly of the Ethiopian Tourism Transformation Council, below are some of the facts Prime Minster Haile-Mariam Dessalgen raised to the gatherings.
“Ethiopia is a country found to be conducive environment for both Christianity and the Islam religions.” As the Premier indicated there is proof in the Bible that Christianity has been harmonized with the existing Judaism belief in the nation; Acts 8:26-40 ( He, Philip met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake- which means ‘queen of the Ethiopians’. And the ever pleasant Ethiopians did not have difficulty in harmonizing the new religion with the existing one.
With Islam, Prophet Mohammed and his followers were forced to leave Arabia then the Prophet sent his followers to Ethiopia saying that they would be safe in spite of the different religion the King and the Abyssinians follow. This fact is documented in Wikipedia and it reads, “When Mohammed saw the persecution to which his followers were subjected to in Mecca, he told them to find safe haven in northern Ethiopia, Abyssinia, where they would find a king there who does not wrong anyone. It was the first Hijra -migration- in Islam history.” Learning this fact, one would not be wrong to say that the nation was the only shelter for Islam at that time.
Apart from its commendable historical background, Ethiopia still holds a ranking position for its victories via her athletes. Waving higher above nations, the green, yellow and red flag remains in the eyes of thousands in a great athletics tournament yet to right history of the nation’s greatness. Moreover, the fact that its being the quiet and peaceful nation in the turmoil East African region enables Ethiopia to be chosen by investors as destination, according to him.
The Premier also said that, the progress observed in other sectors is a pushing factor for all the stakeholders to exert their maximum effort for the overall advancement of the tourism sector aka the smokeless industry. He said that the nation in this aspect has a transformed policies and strategies that wait for to be implemented accordingly. He emphasized, ” the need to accelerate the development of tourist destination areas.”
Dr. Muse Yakob, President of Ethiopian Writers Association suggested that the formation of the think-tank team that would take the responsibility of promoting the present heritages of the nation. “It is paramount advantage because the theme will be a source of bringing out new ideas where the tourism sectors would direct its activities accordingly for the betterment of the sector.” He said, “Tourism is an art that seeks creativity.”
Source: Ethiopian Herald