Business is booming.

The Role of the Entrepreneur in the Development of the Eritrean Tourism Industry

Following a series of successful conferences held in recent months in the six administrative regions that ended at Asmara Palace during 5-6 December 2011, one would ponder as to what will be the way forward to boost the Eritrean Tourism Industry.

It would come to mind that basically, as in any economic sector; the role of the Entrepreneur in the tourism industry will occupy the highest place.

An entrepreneur, according to Wikipedia, is a defined as, “an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative. The term was originally a loan word from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. As it stands therefore, an Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to help launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome. Jean-Baptiste Say, a  French economist, is believed to have coined the word “entrepreneur” in the 19th century – he defined an entrepreneur as “one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as mediatory between capital and labor” In a broader definition by Jean-Baptiste Say: “The entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of lower and into higher productivity and greater yield. There are advocacies that the Entrepreneur is a fourth factor production following land, labor and capital. Entrepreneurs combine the other factors of production, land, labor, and capital in order to make a profit. Often these entrepreneurs are seen as innovators, developing new ways to produce and new products.

According to Venkataram, 1997; Shane and Venkataram, 2000; Shane, 2003. “Entrepreneurship is an activity that involves the discovery, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities to introduce new goods and services, ways of organizing, markets, processes, and raw materials through organizing efforts that previously had not existed”

The success of a business is due to many factors, but the greatest determinant of a business’s success is the entrepreneur him/herself. Naturally the entrepreneur’s diplomas, business knowledge and craftsmanship play an important role, but it is widely believed that the personality of the entrepreneur is even more important. “How strongly does the businessman believe in himself and the success of his business?” “How persistent is the upcoming pioneer when setbacks follow one after the other?” “How decisive can the entrepreneur be in changing threats into business opportunities?” These are just a few of the situations that businessmen must deal with, and there is no doubt that not everyone can cope with these situations.
In today’s tough and uncertain economy, an organization needs strong entrepreneurs to lead their staff toward accomplishing business goals. But entrepreneurs are more than just leaders — they’re problem solvers, cheerleaders, and planners as well. And entrepreneurs don’t come in one-size-fits-all shapes or forms. Entrepreneurs fulfill many roles and have many different responsibilities at each level of management within an organization.
Although technical expertise is needed in any profession, no formal education is required to become an entrepreneur. Self-knowledge through self-analysis is therefore of paramount importance. However, self-analysis demands honesty, discipline and an understanding of one’s own personality in relation to one’s behavior.  However, if one would supplement higher education and professional skill to his experience the likelihood of his leadership quality and growth will broaden.  In any case the individual should be farsighted, creative and has to use one’s own talent to create his workplace and see it growing for the years ahead. The entrepreneur should be someone who would have to think BIG.

There are several types of entrepreneurs. Generally however, an entrepreneur has to have a vision, a goal and above all creativity. These can not be fulfilled if they are not coupled with adequate know-how of managerial and leadership qualities. As long as the entrepreneur plays an open door policy and encourages his colleagues as well as his customers to come up with suggestions and or criticisms it indicates a healthy atmosphere. It will be a sign of his eagerness for upgrading himself as well as his organization. The fast changing world urges one to keep on learning.  In the circumstance it follows that the organization led by that particular entrepreneur will continue to grow.

An entrepreneur has to have a passion more than the cash in flows or in other words the profit that one will expect. This will help the country in the absorption of significant employment opportunities. Such an entrepreneur will have his/ her organization making a long-term, sustainable and viable living working in a field where they have a particular interest, passion, talent, knowledge or high degree of expertise.

In our world today Tourism is not only one of the fastest growing and world’s largest industry, but also the biggest employer. Globalization has brought about economic changes in general, but also particular changes in the tourism industry. The focus of the tourism industry has shifted from air travel, overnights, and meals and so on to total experiences or fantasy worlds associated with specific destinations.
This new tourism phenomenon is not only influenced by economic factors but also by new cultures and a new generation of tourists. In tourism, the different destinations compete worldwide through globalization. 

Increasingly, travel consumers worldwide are seeking experiential, Life enriching vacations that involve culture, nature, the outdoors and learning.  These consumers want authentic experiences that focus on local culture and foods, allowing them to engage all of their senses. They want to get ‘behind the scenes’ and be enriched by the people and places they visit.

This trend provides the tourism industry with a new type of visitor who is seeking more than just a view from a car or a bus.  These visitors want to ‘get inside’ a destination by meeting the local people and learning about the community and its cultures. They seek a greater understanding of nature and the world we live in. This trend means exciting new opportunities for the Eritrean tourism sector, as we have a bounty of resources to work with.

Tourism is a service industry. As such it is quite sensitive and it is absolutely secured with the attitude of the service provider. This would imply that in the business of tourism the entrepreneur has to know one self from inside out. Entrepreneurs  need to know their own strengths and weaknesses because “entrepreneurship involves the ability to build a ‘founding team’ with complementary skills and talents” This is to indicate that the entrepreneur and all the members of his/her organization have to realize that the service they offer to the visitor is all summed up in their attitude. In the course of time the entrepreneur and his organizations members will create an image in the eyes of their customers. Therefore Tourism is a business that would have to create a memorable experience for the visitor and making their vacation dreams come true. A visitor can not love a country simply for its geographical features but for its people from whom outstanding services were offered.

Tourism is well-suited to people who enjoy meeting new people, learning about their culture and various believes, sharing their experience, and ensuring that guests are treated as well as the service provider would like to be treated when traveling.

About seven years ago when the unprecedented and horrific Tsunami hit the coasts of Sri Lanka, many of the responsible indigenous people rushed to save their tourists culminating to the risk of loosing their lives. Such action has left indelibly in the mind of the survivors an unforgettable scenario of love and dedication from the service providers

As an industry Tourism depends on synergy, partnership and harmonious working environment. Hotels, attractive sites, travel agencies, sightseeing tours, transportation agencies, government authorities and the host country in general have a significant role to play to promote their tourist attractions. One of the important tool to promote their business in particular and the country in general is advertisement. Individual entrepreneur or a group of entrepreneurs as the synergy demands could jointly advertise their organizations and the country in international media outlets. Undoubtedly it will have a high rate of return. Good service is an advertisement by itself. However considering the time element it takes, Advertisement has a quick rate of return

Tourism is a business. Thus the Entrepreneur has to be knowledgeable of the business one has to run. This is to say that the entrepreneur has
1)    to clearly identify  the type of business one wants to develop
2)    adequate and continuous research has to be done on one’s business and learning about its unique challenges,
3)    Analyze the markets and the opportunities. One would have to understand that there is a tough competition in international marketing.
4)    Develop one’s professional  business plan
5)    Secure one’s financing muscles
6)    Set up a workable operation activity
7)    Continue to market and promote the business

As it was indicated in the preceding paragraphs service industry is vulnerable to attack if the service seeker is in any case dismayed. One has to know that service giving emanates from the attitude of the service provider.  Service, as contrasted to the primary products, such as mining, and other tangible products can not be stored. It is a unique capital of the service provider and it is rather irreplaceable. Some inexperienced entrepreneurs may think that if any of their members, leaves their organization it would seem so simple to substitute him/her by another person. They seem to forget that that particular individual has taken his /her services away with him/her. If that individual who has left was of an outstanding performance it would be a significant loss to the organization. Contrarily, however if the individual was delinquent, it would be a great relief to the management of the organization. It has to be noted that the more commendable the service being rendered by the service provider the great will be the goodwill that will be amassed over the years. Contrarily the more deplorable the service being rendered by the service provider the more will be the resentment developed by the service seekers. Ultimately such kind of service giver will ungracefully exit from the market.

It goes without saying that the service giver should be a person of proven integrity. It is an intangible capital that will generate high demand from the service seekers. In any service giving industry in general and the tourism industry in particular the service provider should be a person conscious of the responsibility  that is vested upon him/her.  In this regard the service giver should continually analyze his/her weak and strong points. In fact he/she should be aware of the opinion of his customers.

Any service industry could not be executed without the cost element that has to be established as commensurate with the service rendered. Any service seeker expects to enjoy to the maximum for the amount of money one has to expend. 
The entrepreneur has to be conscious of the economy of the country, the rate of inflation and the demand of service as related to inside and outside competitors. A continuous cost accounting studies have to be undertaken in professional manner.  

Entrepreneurship is not as easy as it may seem, especially in the service industry such as tourism. It is not a question of opening a fully furnished office with state of the art communications facilities. What it matters is whether the entrepreneur demonstrates his/her relentless efforts to penetrate in the international market. His/her persuasive powers aided by many friends could by and large drive the entrepreneur to a path of success. Present day tourists or the  new tourists are more experienced, more educated, more “green”, more flexible, more  independent, more quality-conscious and “harder to please” than ever before (Cater and Goodall, 1992; De Villiers, 1996). Furthermore, they are well read and know what they want and where they want to go.

An Entrepreneur is a person entrusted or should feel responsible for cultivating the young for a better organizational performance in particular and for the development of the country in general. To this effect the entrepreneur should ensure that domestic and as well as international training are duly planned and effectively implemented year in and year out.

Eritrea is a country endowed with spectacular archaeological and geographical features. The underwater scenery along the 1200 kilometers of coast line and in particular the Dahlak archipelago makes it the most attractive tourist destination in the world. Underwater diving offers a spectacular flora and fauna. More importantly the country is blessed with its world renowned hospitable people. It therefore remains understandable that the tourism potential of the country is unquestionable.

Much is expected from the Eritrean Entrepreneur, whether in active duty or to flourish in the years ahead, to play a significant role in the development of the Eritrean tourist Industry. As it is said, Tourism is a synergy of activities. All the entrepreneurs in the different sector of the economy, as stake holders, should join hands towards the betterment of the Tourist industry that the country deservedly looks after. The focus should be on the management of excellence and the country will avail itself of the tourism economy for the many years to come. 


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