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How Ethiopia plans to attract 10 million inbound tourists by 2035 – Kebede

Mahlet Kebede, is the head of Ethiopian Holidays. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, she speaks on strategies the department would put structures in place to ensure that by 2035, it would have achieved its target of carrying 10 million inbound tourists to Ethiopia.

There are a lot of beautiful destinations in Ethiopia. How do you intend to market them? What are your strategies?

Ethiopian Holidays is the tour operator wing of Ethiopian Airlines. It is a department that handles inbound and outbound packages, as well as the conference market. We call these the new face of Addis. So there are new places, some are still under construction which will be finalised within a few months, maybe eight months or so. There are two things; one is for Ethiopian passengers from all over Africa, to have a full package. We can arrange that, plus you can visit Ethiopia throughout the year. So there is a time when it is dry and very pleasant throughout the year, so it would be a year round destination. We have the culture in the North; we also have Northern history and the white life. We also have stopover packages. Ethiopian Airlines has mostly transit passengers going through Addis Airport. So the plan is to have these transit passengers come for a day, two, three or up to seven days. We have already made different package combinations depending on the interest of the customer. If a passenger has decided to travel on Ethiopian Airlines, the only thing we have to do is to convince the passenger to come for a few days into Addis while arriving or departing. So the motor that we have is ‘One Trip, Two Destinations’. So, we would like to make it a pleasant one, and we would not be charging any additional fare for the passenger to come and stop here in Addis. This enables people to see the beautiful destinations in Addis and once they are comfortable, next time, they will become full package passengers.

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How is the response so far?

It is good but as you know Covid-19 was one problem but now people have learned to live with Covid-19. Whether there is Covid or not people are visiting. So we will be fully promoting from now to October onward and we will be ready to attend to all the customers from the airport to their destinations.

How much has ET Holidays contributed to the success or the growth of Ethiopian Airlines?

As I mentioned, Ethiopia Holidays is both for inbound and outbound. For example, recently, we have been working on outbound, filling our outbound flights. So it is a major part and we have a target for this department. By 2035, we will be reaching 10 million inbound tourists. We have different projects. For instance, we have different films being produced right now so that people know what’s in here; seeing is believing. We will be promoting all these and we will be having one folder inflight for travel so that we show what people will see when they come into Ethiopia. This will make it easier for tour operators to sell their package.

The inbound that ends in Ethiopia what has been the figure in the last ten years?

What is Ethiopia’s current number of inbound tourists?

I don’t have the figure by heart but it continued to increase until COVID-19. This is like a full-fledged tour operator; we were expanding, having our own tour operations. But things ceased for a year and half but we are starting again. The past year was not really good but still the office was open and active for some outbound and inbound tourism as well.

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