Solimar is proud to announce the launch of the Roots of Ethiopia website. This unique portal promotes the wide range of community tourism products found in Ethiopia; thus helping to position it as a top community tourism destination in Africa. The website has been developed by the Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Alliance in partnership with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and Tesfa (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives), and features an array of activities including culture and nature walks, weaving and cooking demonstrations, horseback rides, boat tours and craft shopping, among others.The portal’s launch event took place in April in Addis Ababa. It was opened by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Tourism and was attended by key tourism stakeholders from the public and private sectors and across the development industry.
The core of the event was the presentation of the website and its functions. Solimar International’s Jessie McComb led this section in a fun and engaging way by describing how different types of tourists might use the website to learn more about Ethiopia and the community tourism products. She used the following real and fictional case studies:
- Ms. McComb’s worry-wart mother, who would immediately ask about health, safety, transport and travel logistics. This information is all included in the “Plan Your Trip” section, which includes detailed FAQs for first-time travelers to Ethiopia and Africa.
- Anna, an imaginary, well-traveled German tourist, is coming to Ethiopia on a package tour, but also wants to discover local culture. Using the “Search by Destination” function, which displays the community tourism destinations on a country a map, she can see which communities are located close to the sites that she will already be visiting.
- Mike and John are expatriates living in Addis, with a good knowledge of Ethiopian geography. With the aid of the “Search by Activity” function, they can quickly find a tour that will fit their interests.
Roots of Ethiopia has been launched at a key moment for the tourism market. In 2009, over 105 million Americans used the Internet for travel planning – a 16% increase from 2007- while the number of Europeans booking travel online is now approaching 50% and growing. This new web presence offers a tremendous opportunity for rural Ethiopian communities to reach internet-savvy tourists around the world, to improve their livelihoods, create much-needed employment and generate income.