2013-02-12 09:28:02 - Mr Michel Noblet, President, HMH – Hospitality Management Holdings, was recently in Addis Ababa on an advisory mission while exploring opportunities for the group.
During his three-day visit, he met a number of leading dignitaries including Mr Amin Abdulkadir, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr Yonas Desta, Director General, Authority for Research & Conservation of Cultural Heritage, and Dr. Yousif Eisa Hassan Al Sabri, Ambassador Extraordinary for United Arab Emirates to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to African Union.
Welcoming Mr Noblet, Mr Abdulkadir said, “The tide for tourism and hospitality is turning in Ethiopia that is poised for exceptional growth and we are glad to welcome you at this key juncture. Our people are our greatest asset and their development is our biggest priority. We therefore welcome your expertise and remain open to any suggestions that could help us to groom a highly skilled
and competitive workforce for both local and international markets”.
In the past, Ethiopian tourism industry suffered from a lack of infrastructure and decent accommodation options but that is changing. It was among the top 10 most desirable destinations for 2012 placing it on the tourists’ radar worldwide. With over 130 operational hotels in Addis Ababa alone and several more in development the boom in hospitality is noticeable. Between 2000 and 2010, Ethiopia reduced its farming industry’s share from 49 per cent to 41 per cent as manufacturing, construction and services grew to fill the gap. In 2010 the country was declared one of the world’s five fastest-growing economies. The government is now looking for ways to double tourism earnings during 2010-2015 and expects about one million foreign arrivals by 2020.
What accounts for all this progress? Said Mr Noblet, “I feel, the single most important contribution comes from better policy. International conference tourism is on the rise in Ethiopia due the presence of many international organisations such as the headquarters of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa. The capital city, being a business centre and a conference venue, is host to annual conferences for UN branches, pan-African business organisations and special interest groups that have been attracting a growing number of delegates to the country each year.”
With over 50 years of international experience in hospitality, Mr Noblet is certainly well placed to advise and propose training solutions to a fast-growing and dynamic industry. He said, “Ethiopia’s turnaround has indeed been breathtaking. It is an incredibly lush and beautiful country - a destination that offers a rare balance of historical, spiritual and outdoor adventures. When you look closely, besides ancient skeletons and the freshest brews, there is more going on in there than most of us can possibly imagine. Mesmerizing music, funky fashion, swanky hotels, surreal landscapes, innovative art, fair-trade food, excellent weather conditions, bustling towns and extremely friendly people are definitely turning around international perception and proving to be a big magnet for tourists. Conference tourism too is poised to gain greater significance due to the development of several top hotels in Addis Ababa to meet the demand. However, the country needs a boost in terms of services with a more skilled and trained workforce that will be instrumental to the growth of the industry both locally and internationally.”
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