On Monday 27th of March 2017, more than 100 tourism professionals, tour operators, journalists, diplomats and investors gathered at the Press Club Brussels Europe to learn more about Ethiopia’s cultural and tourism developments, as well as about the emerging wine sector in the country. The event, organized by the Embassy of Ethiopia in Brussels in collaboration with Forbes Africa Magazine and the Brussels Press Club, aimed at promoting a good image of Ethiopia in Europe. It was also the occasion to unveil the new tourism brand of Ethiopia dubbed as “Ethiopia, The Land Of Origins.” After an informative program on Ethiopian tourism destinations, the guests enjoyed Ethiopian wine, a cultural show, an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and Ethiopian traditional cuisine.
In his statement, H.E. Teshome Toga, Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, to the Benelux, Baltic States and EU, reminded guests about Ethiopia’s distinct history and vivid culture, as well as of the country’s economic and social progress during the last 25 years. Moreover, although there were some unrests in some parts of the country last year, the situation was and remains completely safe for tourists. Past achievements and current efforts have contributed to march forward on the country’s aim to become a leading tourism destination. A sign for this commitment is the establishment of a tourism policy, as well as a National Tourism Council chaired by the Prime Minister, which enabled a big push in this sector, and also an Ethiopian Tourism Organization which mandate is to promote and develop the sector. The Ambassador also thanked the guests for their efforts to promote Ethiopia as a tourism destination and hoped for further collaboration in the future.
Mr. Luc Deckers, Guide and Accompanying Staff at the Tour Operator Voyages ICTAM, gave a detailed testimony about his experience in the country. Mr. Deckers, who visits Ethiopia with groups from Belgium several times a year, emphasized how easy it is to move around the country compared to other countries, thanks to the very good infrastructure. He also said the hotel accommodation has improved spectacularly in the last years. He added that participants to his trips were often eager to visit the country a second and even a third time to make sure they explore all the attractions Ethiopia has to offer.
Mr. Szymon Jagiello, EU Correspondent of the Forbes Afrique Magazine, also testified about the massive transformation the country had undergone in recent years based on efficient development policies.
Mr. Jean Paul Blavier, who run and monitores the Castel Winery project in Ethiopia, then explained how Castel’s 20-million euros investment was carried out starting 2007 and the way it positively contributed to change the image of Ethiopia in the whole world. Several factors explain the success story of this winery, among others the professionalism of this project in terms of human resources and technology transfer. Today, 283 Ethiopians are working in the winery, which covers 120 ha and produced 1.4 million bottles in 2016. Mrs Debritu-Lusteau, who works in Benelux countries to sell their production, explained that Castle wine produced in Ethiopia is being sold in Europe since April 2015. It can mainly be found in Ethiopian restaurants in Europe at the moment, and the next step will be to make it available in European supermarkets.
Mr Bisrat Tedla, General Manager of Ethiopian Airlines Benelux, Office gave some insights about Ethiopian’s modern fleet and services, both in terms of international and domestic flights. Ethiopian Airlines is currently Africa’s largest airline in terms of revenue. Other specific features of Ethiopian Airlines are excellent on-time performance, high-quality on-board service and interesting fares for group travel.
Finally, a return ticket to Addis Ababa was handed over by H.E. Ambassador Teshome Toga and Mr. Bisrat Tedla to Mr. Mihai Contiu, winner of the lottery organized at Ethiopia’s exhibition stand the Brussels holiday fair Salon des Vacances last February.
After this formal program, participants had the chance to witness and participate to Ethiopian traditional dances carried out by enthusiastic dancers dressed in traditional costumes, to admire an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and taste authentic Ethiopian cuisine, along with the unique Ethiopian Rift Valley wine. Through the evening, guests had the opportunity to get a genuine taste of Ethiopian culture and get a glimpse of what Ethiopia has to offer, and why it is a unique tourism destination.