Last year the gov't and UNWTO reported contradictory figures

May 11 , 2019

Ethiopia is moving ahead to adopt a national tourism satellite account to calculate the contribution of the tourism industry to the national economy.

Expected to be operational in a half year, the new system will be launched in collaboration with Tourism Ethiopia and the Ministry of Innovation & Technology. Developed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the system is a standard statistical framework used as a tool for the economic measurement of tourism.

The system will enable the country to measure the size of the tourism industry, which is the combination of accommodation, food and beverage services, transportation and travel agencies in the national accounts.

It will replace a system of estimation based on outdated analysis and surveys that have been used for years, according to Woldegebreal Berhe, marketing team leader at Tourism Ethiopia.

The county has been calculating tourism revenue and its contribution to the GDP based on an assessment conducted by the World Bank and the Ministry of Culture & Tourism in 2013. The assessment states that on average a tourist stays in the county for 16 days, spending 234 dollars a day. And the revenue has been calculated by multiplying the total number of tourists who arrived in the country by those values.

"This is not acceptable as many other countries don't use this system," said Wubshet Kassa, economic services planning director at the National Planning & Development Commission.

Last year, UNWTO and the Ministry of Culture reported different figures on tourist flows to Ethiopia and the size of revenue generated from the industry. The Ministry recorded 3.3 billion dollars was made from 934,000 visitors, while UNWTO reported that 933,000 visitors generated 2.5 billion dollars in 2017.

"The satellite account will help the country capture and release accurate information about the industry," said Lensa Mekonen, CEO of Tourism Ethiopia.

In doing so, Ethiopia will join Rwanda, Kenya, Mauritius and South Africa who have already started to use similar systems.

There were different attempts to collect data on the industry, but they have failed due to shortages of resources, skilled workers and technology, according to Lensa.

Proper data collection is essential to develop effective tourism policy and make strategic decisions, wrote David Desta, a graduate of School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University writing in Addis Standard, a local online media outlet.

"After all, accurate data and information are the backbone of strategic, informed decisions," wrote David.

Lensa agrees with David.

"Since there were no clear and accurate data, proper strategies and policies were not placed on the industry," she said. "The sector has been suffering from a problem of prioritisation."

Social Beyene, IT expert and CEO at Dastech ICT Solution, also applauds the initiative, saying that the system is up to date and integrates all of the economic sectors of the country technologically.

The system requires an investment that can reach 10 million Br to procure the hardware, server and customisation of the software, according to Social.

Tourism Ethiopia plans to increase the tourism industry's contribution to GDP to five percent at the end of the second edition of the Growth & Transformation Plan.

PUBLISHED ON May 11,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 993]

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