This year’s International Day of Tourism 2014 will be observed on 27 September under the theme “Tourism and Community Development”. With regards to this day we conducted a brief interview with Mr. Solomon Abraha, Chairman of Eritrean Tourism Services Association. Excerpts of the interview follow.
Mr. Solomon, what is the relationship between tourism and service rendering institutions?
Tourists come visit different countries for different interests. Some could have an interest with arts and historical sites, others could be interested in that country’s culture and tradition, and others to enjoy in the resorts and beaches of the country. With that we could say that tourism becomes an interesting and intricate activity. You to do your level best so that the tourists get what they demand and motivate them come again and tell their friends of their good experiences and by that assist the growth of the industry.
What I mean a tourist should get what he/she demands; I mean you should have good communication services including transportation and telecommunications, clean accommodation places like hotels, restaurants and cafes as well as hospitality.
What do you think tourism plays in the economic development of a country?
It has great contribution in the economic growth of a given country. For one thing as they call it tourism is a smokeless industry. You have to build good infrastructure and other basic necessities that attract tourists and you gain from it. Imagine the investment made for building good infrastructure and services is not meant only for tourism services but for other economic activities. And that makes the tourism growth could be attained with less expenses and the overturn becomes bigger than that of the industry which needs daily funding for its running cost.
With the growth of tourism everyone benefits. It creates job opportunity from the lowest level as tourism guide to that of the hotels, transportation and other services.
Whats the relevance when we say “Tourism and Community Development?
As I tried to explain, if there is growth in tourism everyone benefits. Say for example a tourist comes and goes to visit an area of interest. He needs transportation, food, water, communications facilities, and what have you. In this case people from the transportation sector could benefit, hotels and restaurants in the area could make good income. More over there are tourist’s guides, jewelry and souvenir vendors that could get daily income from tourism and thereby improve their livelihood.
Every year we observe International Tourism Day with different themes. Last year we observed the day with the theme “Tourism and Water by Protecting Our Common Future. What was the response from the service rendering institutions?
This question does not only concern the tourism service rendering association. It concerns the whole society as a whole. Last year’s theme has been related to water management system. There are various factors that influence the judicious use of water. Eritrea’s geographical location is the main factor. Our geographical location does not allow us to be wasteful when it comes to water usage. We are located at the arid zone and with no plentiful of rainfall. Hence we should be careful in our water usage. Wise management of any resource requires deep knowledge of the availability of the resource before we put it into use. Hence, if we have the accurate knowledge of the amount and availability of the resource we could be able to design the right policy and mechanism on how we should exploit the resource.
What about this year’s theme?
This year’s theme is “Tourism and Community Development”. And we, in our country, we would like to associate it with “Role of Dams in the Development of Tour¬ism”. Still we are emphasizing on water that we collect in dams. With the development of dams we could be able to use the water for establishing big agroindustries through irrigation.
That would help in attracting tourists that are interested in agro-industry. We call it agro-tourism. Tourists would come to visit the agro-industries with different motives. Some would come to enjoy eating the organic vegetables and fruits that are produced in the agro-industry; and some would come to enjoy the fresh air and odor that comes out of the vegetables and fruits. Tourists especially in the developed countries are fed up with the agricultural products that grow through the help of chemicals. And the organic agricultural products that are produced in countries like ours are cheap for tourists.
I would like to tell you also that the central theme of the day does not negate with that of us. Both themes have a common message. The development of tourism in one country mainly benefits the community of that country. Agro-tourism has also direct relationship with the community since large parts of the people that are engaged with agro-industry are part of the community. And if there is a benefit from that it is the society that benefits.
Do you have anything to add?
I would like to call upon the society to exploit the natural resources and historical sites for the growth of the smokeless tourism industry. When I say to exploit I mean, first we have to be vigilant to preserve our natural resources from pollution, unwise usage and damage. Furthermore we have to reinforce our participation in the nation building process so that we have better infrastructure, good service provision institutions, and place of attraction to tourists. A well developed Eritrea with the prevailing peace and security would have the potential of attracting tourists and that in return would have a significant contribution for improving the livelihood of the community.
Thank you for having me!