National Hotel and Tourism Conference happened in Addis Ababa in this month of September, 2019. The meeting called for quality services and infrastructures in order to increase Ethiopia’s viability in the tourism industry. It is also stated that Ethiopia is committed to work closely with stakeholders to address the challenges facing the industry.
In spite of high potential for tourism based economy, there are different reasons why Ethiopia is not profiting enough from the tourism potential. Of course, lack of standard tourist destination facilities and poor service quality are some of the challenges affecting Ethiopia’s tourism industry.
However, Ethiopia has not yet significantly provide due emphasis to the sector through “tourism laws” that can create clear picture to the community, investor and the government in particular and to all other stakeholders in general. A partnership with the community and other stakeholders shall be designed and implemented through laws that will create win-win mentality among all parties concerned to bring about tangible results and boost the income from the industry.
In general, tourism law incorporates general government policies and related hospitality industry platforms to be respected and implemented.
Why tourism law is important?
The main purpose of tourism law is to provide a regulatory framework for the proper use, development and management of tourism activities, which is also supported by the World Tourism Organization of United Nations (UNWTO). Basically, the existence of the law will support in the preservation of cultural traditions and the conservation of natural resources in addition to other social, political and economic advantages. Furthermore, travelers and other can stakeholders receive basic legal protection through transparent mechanisms.
Nonetheless formulating and enforcing tourism laws is notably neglected not only in Ethiopia but also in most parts of Africa. Some African countries have not only poor infrastructures but also provide zero level protection to tourists, which is especially crucial for non-local visitors. Nowadays, well-liked countries to the industry are struggling to keep an eye on and enforce pragmatic laws to protect tourist activities and assure benefits arising out of it.
So, what are the thematic areas of tourism laws?
When talking about tourism laws, it mainly refers to a blend of local, state regional and international level legal instruments that basically regulate various aspects of the industry. However, laws at state level shall include the roles and functions of the stakeholders of the tourism industry that includes but not limited to;
- Define who stakeholders are;
- Identify the role of each stakeholder;
- Put value systems of the tourist sites that may involve religious, cultural and social values;
- Create benefit sharing mechanisms among the stakeholders that involve the community, state and administrators of the tourist sites;
- Put environmental friendly atmosphere through regulatory frameworks;
- To frame responsibility and accountability in relation to peace and security; and
- Introduce rights and general obligatory frameworks of tourists while visiting sites;
Generally, the current system that is governing the tourism industry in Ethiopia is unsystematic and non-standardized in relation to the above stated issues. Accordingly, time is demanding Ethiopia to formulate a compiled tourism law in an effort to systematize and standardize the tourism business in the country for a maximum benefit out of it.