Ethiopia with its various tangible and intangible heritages, historical and cultural tourist destination is much more than the land of origin, said Dr. Taleb D. Rifai, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
This comment came during the 37 African ministers of tourism and high level delegations of the UNWTO led by Dr. Rifai visited the town of Gondar, home to Fasil Ghebbi which was the residence of the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides and his successors.
In an exclusive interview with ENA, the Secretary General said he is amused by the enormous tourist destinations that Ethiopia possesses and the different styles of the castles.
The Fasil Ghebbi palace compound includes the Castle of Emperors Fasilidas, Iyasu and David; Library and Chancellery of Tzadich Yohannes; Palace of Mentuab and Banqueting Hall of the Emperor Bekaffa.
Renowned monasteries, churches, thermal areas and the Palace of Guzara are also located in and around the city of Gondar.
"The same kind of stone and building techniques, yet the styles are completely different. That is what really fascinates me" the Secretary General said.
In addition to the nine tangible and two intangible world heritages, and considered as the origin of mankind, Ethiopia is home to numerous cultural, religious and historic and natural heritages. But branding this potential has not yet done.
The Secretary General urged for the need to invest in much more effort, resources and capacity in promoting and marketing in making the world know more about Ethiopia.
"The branding exercise has not yet been done. I know you came up with the tag line ‘the land of origin', but Ethiopia is by far much more than this. It is a land that can accommodate its essence and souls that are beyond the world`s description" he said.
Ethiopia is not only the land of origin and diversity, but also a land of unity, where all aspects of life are unified under one umbrella, he added.
"I think this visit completes my dictionary and my vocabulary on the cultural aspects of Ethiopia. The beauty of it is in the diversity within a unity. There is a remarkable spirit that unifies the whole place", Dr Rafai said.
The Secretary General, who visited Ethiopia for the third time, was also impressed with the commitment and political will of the government to properly utilize the country's tourism potential.
"The most important and impressive development I saw is the maturity of the political will and believe in tourism today that I felt so strong and clear" he said.
He urged the need for a collaborative work between the private sector and government for the growth of the sector so that attracting the world to the amusing and unique Ethiopia.
In that regard, he pledged that the UNWTO will be helping Ethiopia in positioning itself at the international stage.
The infrastructure and hotel service in Ethiopia, the country hugely invested in infrastructure development, is capable of receiving ten times more than what the country is receive now, Dr. Rafai said.
The delegations have also visited the Debre Birhan Selassie basilica church which was built by Emperor Eyasu II in the 17th century and planted trees as a demonstration of their commitment for environmental protection and climate change.
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