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TRANSFORMING THE TOURISM INDUSTRY OF ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1212-04]
This research paper resulted from several years of successive research on community based ecotourism development, it details the natural and cultural tourism attractions which Ethiopia is endowed with, how to transform tourism resources into products and the a-b-c’s of implementing tourism which makes the community a beneficiary and part of the tourism development process. The research paper recommends inclusive and sustainable community based tourism development in Ethiopia and emphasizes:
a) the diverse natural and cultural tourism resources that Ethiopia is endowed with;
b) the various forms of tourism activities which can be developed in Ethiopia;
c) the A-B-C of tourism resource mapping and concurrent empowerment of communities residing in destinations which includes: i) understanding the existing social, cultural, economic, environmental, and technological context of communities; ii) identifying barriers which hinder communities from involvement in tourism development; and iii) capacity building of the community to enable them to be part of the tourism development process and to become beneficiaries;
d) the transformation of tourism resources of a destination into authentic and customer friendly tourism products;
e) mechanisms of community empowerment: offering awareness and training on resources and services, diversifying employment opportunities, building tourism entrepreneurship skills, financing small and micro community based tourism businesses, strengthening the agriculture-tourism linkage, awareness on socio-cultural values of society, and creating learning and practice sharing platforms.
The paper concludes by stressing that if properly developed, Ethiopian tourism can diversify livelihoods, create jobs for millions of youth, women and other members of the society, reduce cultural erosion and tourism dependency syndrome and can create huge revenues which can contribute to the national economic growth.