Domestic Tourism to Fuel Smacked Tourism Sector Recovery   

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A new report dubbed Spotlight Ethiopia Hotel Market Overview has predicted domestic tourism is likely to recover first as residents refrain from traveling abroad with the coronavirus pandemic affecting international travel. 

The report released by JLL, a global real estate investment, and advisory firm, states the pandemic effects will encourage locals and residents to travel domestically, and businesses can recover their losses. 

The impact of COVID-19 in Addis Ababa has seen 88% of hotels either full or partially closed. Since the first reported the first case in mid-March hotel room occupancy rate slumped to below two percent, leading to average monthly losses of 35 million dollars in revenues.

While the market will take some time to recover, the report found that domestic tourism to fuel the rescue.

“Ethiopia should tap into the domestic and regional market as a short-term solution to revive its tourism industry,” said David Desta, an Associate at JLL Hotels and Hospitality group. 

The recent extensive redevelopment projects in Addis Abeba by the government are also to aid the recovery. The report expects Unity Park, Entoto Park, Meskal Square, and “Beautifying Sheger” projects to provide the city with a facelift that could motivate residents to explore the capital city of Addis Ababa. 

The report also points out that Ethiopia’s diverse yet untapped tourist offerings in the north and south can serve as a domestic revenue source.

However, the report released in July 2020 also advises local businesses to revisit their pricing strategy as expensive tour packages, and hotel rates once targeted to foreigners remain prohibitive for many domestic tourists. 

In addition to the domestic market, the report also reviewed Ethiopia as an international destination in the post-pandemic era. 

The report highlights that Addis Ababa will likely see an increase in corporate, NGO, and diplomatic demand over the next few years.

Recently the government measures to improve the investment landscape such as the relaxation of visa policies and the enabling of nationals as well as residents from the African Union to obtain visa’s on arrival, which saw the Africa Visa Index go up by 32 places to secure a top 20 position in 2019. 

The report expects that such measures, coupled with other government initiatives, could boost the country’s international tourism revenue and hotels and service providers to bounce back on their feet.

Addis Ababa has a total of 1,968 hotels, and currently, there are 21 internationally branded hotels under development in Ethiopia, which in theory, could add around 4,300 rooms.