Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

The challenging hospitality sector

Traveling and living in Ethiopia comes with many of the same ups and downs as other transforming countries. Now it is possible to see foreigners visiting many cities, not just Addis Ababa.
Hotels are becoming busier as they continue to serve more and more local people as well as those visiting from overseas.
Hotels are a multibillion dollar industry, employing millions of people.  Hotels that cater to tourists or to business people depend on top notch service. Unless people are just looking for a place to bunk down for the night they choose hotels largely based on the service they receive so the industry’s development relies on developing professionals in the hospitality industry who can cater adequately  to tourists or business people that come to visit. For a country to exploit this resource, it needs to have highly qualified and up to the standard hotel facilities and impeccable service.
The hotel industry in Ethiopia has been developing very fast but there is still big room for improvement when it comes to the quality of service and standards need to be maintained.
Tourism in Ethiopia has been taking off recentlyand much  of this several billion dollar industry relies on hospitality.  
Hospitality has played an important role in society since the beginning of time. In ancient Roman culture rest places were built near thermal baths. In the Middle Ages religious orders would offer accommodation for travelers on the road. Judaism believed in the principles of “welcoming guests”. In many cultures hosts provide food and drink for their visitors and at the end of the visit; hosts customarily escort their company out of their home, wishing them a safe journey. Modern and luxury hotels began to spring out in the latter part of the 19th century. In countries like India where hospitality is believed to mean “the guest is God”, there are a number of tales where the guest is literally a god who rewards the provider of hospitality.
Taking this as a conceptual frame work, the history of hotel industries in Ethiopia began in 1898, when Taitu Betul the wife of Emperor Menelik, established the first hotel in Ethiopia, to provide guests a place to rest and dine. Starting with the Taitu Hotel, these places have been steadily growing albeit more slowly until recent times.  The Sheraton Addis located near the capital’s main attractions including the national places is the first hotel in Africa to join the luxury collection. Its elegant guest rooms and  exceptional recreational and meeting facilities make the Sheraton Addis the ideal African luxury destination.
However there is a noticeable gap in the country’s hospitality sector. Besides poor hospitality services provided by the hotels. The lack of luxury hotels in the city and the absence of hotels, in some historical places need to be addressed.
To help fill this gap, Sunshine has already sealed a deal to develop two five-star Marriott hotels with a total expenditure of over USD 100 million.
Ethiopia, with the cultural and natural resources in the country, has a tremendous potential to be a leading tourist destination in the near future. This requires a strong hospitality industry to flourish in all parts of the country.
We have been witnessing recently that many international branded hotels are joining the country’s hospitality industry, setting the standard higher.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced its first hotel investment in Ethiopia, with a loan of USD 9.5 million to Ethiopian company Tsemex Global Enterprise, to develop an international-standard hotel in Addis Ababa. The hotel will create over 300 local jobs, many for women and the youth, while helping meet the growing demand for business infrastructure as Ethiopia’s economy expands. Local entrepreneurs who provide food, transport and other general services will also benefit from this investment.  An additional group of international hotels also signed deals with their Ethiopian partners to open new places.
There are plans for significant expansion in the hospitality sector in Ethiopia with an estimated 120 new hotels and other establishments to be constructed in the coming few years.
Even though, these agreements will help develop hotels in Addis Ababa, it would be wise for them to look to other parts of the  country for their investment.
It is a fact that Addis Ababa is changing by the very minute. The city has recently been in a construction boom, with sky scraper buildings rising in many places. Amazing growth in the hotel and hospitality sectors; and investors are tapping the Ethiopian tourism potential more than ever before. Various luxury services have also become available and construction of shopping malls has recently increased