When many think of people who like traveling around, they think money. Sure, to be able to travel in one’s country as well as others it requires money and is a luxury.
There would not be a tourism sector in any country with out those who decide to spend their time and whatever amount of money they have in different countries and often times, those we consider to be tourists are not rich, they do not have such a large amount of money that they don’t know what to do with it. Quiet to the contrary, many tourists are those with modest lives.
I recently was speaking with a friend of mine who has spent most of his life in the United States and according to him one of the biggest headaches he encounters while traveling is that he has to pay double or even triple the price for everything. This is the same story for many other tourists as well.
In Ethiopia tourists are charged extra for everything. It seems as though that the only place the tourists are safe from being charged over the top is in restaurants and in supermarkets, even then it is because the establishments have to provide a valid receipt to their customers. Some hotels even have a separate menu for foreigners with more expensive prices for the same items.
I never really understood the logic behind this charging foreigners extra concept. This is not unique to only Ethiopia, it is also in several other countries, especially poor ones.
In Ethiopia, even for locals, traveling for pleasure has become unthinkable. The recent air travel fare increment and the overly priced hotels with questionable standards all to add up on that.
I do understand that the tourism sector needs to grow and it needs money, but is it not a bit wrong to place profit over people just because they belong to a different nation or just because they have a different skin color? More times than not, nobody really get their money’s worth.
Ethiopia really is blessed with so much beauty and history. It has an abundance of heritage and culture that could potentially mobilize more tourist than we have seen. But that is not going to happen, not anytime soon at least.
This is because we don’t realize yet the potential we are sitting on and we do not make it easy for people to come. Having all the heritage and culture in the world is not enough if it is not promoted well and if it is not inviting.
We need to also understand that we are just one tiny country in the whole wide world, there are far more attractive countries who are well organized enough to provide different travel packages that really puts the tourists needs at the core.
But here, what do we do? We charge them 300 percent more. Even then none of that money goes to the communities, but to either to the tour operator or the hotel.
This assumption that everybody from abroad has the ability to pay whatever crazy price we throw at them needs to be revised. Everybody is on a budget.
A lot of tourists actually travel with their backpacks and camping gear because hotels do get expensive but now, even safe camping grounds are as expensive s a hotel room! What is going on here? Are we as a country trying to attract more tourists or are we trying to drive them away?
I recently visited a resort in Debre Zeit called Salayishe Lodge. It is set on the hills surrounding Lake Babogaya. All around this lake there are other resorts and lodges that are inappropriately priced. But the lodge I visited to my surprise was really affordable and had absolutely impeccable service. And their accommodations are almost always full.
We need to be nicer and fair to our tourists. These people are on vacation and they do not need to be exposed to such inappropriate actions. After all, out of all the countries in the world they probably could go to, they chose to come here. That should tell us something.