Many countries do a lot of things to expand their tourism industry. Eritrea is considered one of the many countries which are desired to be visited by tourists for its rich natural resources and peaceful environment. On today’s Q&A we have a man who has invested a lot to renovate and build hotels across Eritrea, Mr. Giovani Primo. He is a man of hard work that has come a long way to make him a successful entrepreneur. We had an interesting chat with Mr. Primo, visiting one of his hotels in Massawa, Dahlak Grand Hotel.
Something about yourself Mr. Primo.
Ok! I was born in Asmara in 1942. I spent a challenging childhood as my mom and I faced some financial problems. I spent my young ages working with different franchises and selling different stuffs on the streets. I would say that is the reason I learned how to work hard, and honestly speaking, nothing I dreamed of would come true if I didn’t. I wanted to make money that would make my life and my family’s life better. We would actually need a lot of time to mention all of the works that I have done to get where I am.
However, I had a particular job before I left for Italy; and that was my job at a bottle factory. I was not fully satisfied with my payment, though. I was working more than the Italians did. I told my boss that it wasn’t fair and he said Italians don’t have the extra land for them to farm and get food, but since I am half Eritrean and was born here my family had the opportunity. I was furious with the answer and quit the job to leave for Italy.
Did things go as you expected them in Italy?
Well, of course, I was young and I was going to live in a new city and new systems that I didn’t know. But I have considered everything and managed to work even harder. This time I worked with much bigger vision to change my life for the better. This way I always dreamt about making money and getting back to my country. In Italy I opened a small shop and I literally pushed people from the streets to get in to my shop at first. That is how I started expanding my business. I turned into a good business-man and travelled almost all over the world to trade goods. Everywhere I go, even places I haven’t seen before, I came back with something to sell back in Italy. Mostly, I became interested in antique furniture and other antique materials that boosted my business.
After a while, I got married and had two beautiful children. I started to lead a good life there. But the unconstrained love for my country couldn’t keep me away anymore. After all this years I returned to the place I cherish most and grew up, Eritrea.
What can you tell us about the tourism industry?
Every country has its own beauty. That is a fact, either its cultural values or natural gifts. In order for a country to earn a meaningful lump-sum of money, it is important to work on tourist attraction sites. People pay a lot to see the world, visit historical places and enjoy good weather. I believe that is a great potential for the country extra income. In order to host great number of tourists per year, it is also very important to provide them good hospitality and suitable environment. That is the main factor of tourism services.
How do you rate Eritrea in Tourism?
Eritrea is a whole package for tourists. It is everything tourists find most interesting and attractive, starting from the good weather, peaceful environment and cultural diversity. It is a rich country and I think that we should embrace its beauty and welcome more tourists. Tourists would pay a lot of money to stay and enjoy a place like Eritrea. We have to work hard to improve what we have here. Few countries have such blessings as ours. We have the different seasons in just few hours, the good climate, the great culture, peaceful environment and most of all, the Red-Sea.
About your hotels…
Albegro Italia Hotel, now goes by the name Keren Hotel. It is a historic building visited by many Italian tourists mainly, as they feel like Eritrea is their second home. It is one of the oldest buildings in the country. It was built in 1899. In fact it is the first Hotel in Asmara. The hotel is also one of the buildings that is registered at the UNESCO world heritage. I remember that my uncle used to work at the hotel as a guard back in the days, and whenever I passed by the hotel as a little kid, he used to buy me candies and give me money. It meant a lot for me to buy the hotel. We had it renewed by bringing the best architect from Italy without ruining its originality. It consists of seventeen rooms and two restaurants.
Another is the Dahlak Grand Hotel in Masswa. It is a big hotel with 206 rooms and 120 employees. We have partitioned the hotel into two so it would help us manage it. As a matter of fact you have caught us in the middle of repairing some of the rooms’ bathrooms. Similarly, the hotel is built with antique furniture and household materials that I have brought from different countries. The hSotel hosts many guests and tourists.
You collect Old Italian newspapers as well…
Ohh good, you have seen that. The newspapers were about Eritrea from the 1930s to 1970s. I collect them because they have history to tell. You can clearly see what was going on during those times in Eritrea. The progress and developments the country approached, the daily activities of different franchises and personals. They are in Italian language, but I believe that it teaches history of the country.
Thank you for your time Mr. Primo. Any last words you might want to share?
It is my pleasure. I just want to say something to the Eritrean youth, “there is always a price you have to pay in order to get where you want and to achieve what you desire; that would be to be great at what you do. It always demands time and effort to reach a goal. Youth need to learn to be patient and be great at what they do. Success is always hard to get but very sweet when you have it.”
Tourism Industry requires the participation of everyone for its development and nations like Eritrea can easily promote and push it towards its highest limit with their bountiful beauty.