By Staff Reporter
December 12, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- On a previous article we published regarding the Expansion of Hotel Business in Ethiopia, we promised to bring the Deputy General Director of Catering and Tourism Training Institute (CTTI), Gezahegn Abate Gizawe, to talk about the expansion of hotel in Ethiopia, the opportunities, as well as the challenges in the service sector across the country. Ezega News recently interviewed Gezahegn Abate Gizawe.
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe previously worked as head of Sub-city Education Office at Addis Ababa Nefas Silk Lafto Sub-city and Public and International Relations Directorate Director at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Currently, he is Deputy General Director at Catering and Tourism Institute.
Ezega News: Gezahagn, thank you for taking the time for this interview.
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: Thank you Ezega News for having me as a guest.
Ezega News: Can you please share with us the objectives of the Catering and Tourism Institute (CTTI); what are its main activities?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: Catering and Tourism Training Institute (CTTI) is capacitating companies and various stakeholders involved in the tourism and hospitality industry in training and technology transfer. To achieve this goal effectively, the institute has a cluster of institutes, with its satellite institutes in nine regional states and two city administrations. Those institutes scattered across the country are currently playing a vital role in developing and capacitating the key actors in the sector. And the main objective of CTTI is to produce skilled manpower, conduct research, and consultancy related works in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Since its establishment 51 years back, Catering & Tourism Training Center (CTTC), with the objective of producing skilled manpower in the tourism and hospitality industry, has worked on roadmaps to lighten the path of industry. In doing so, the Institute undertakes short, medium and long-term plans, pre-service and in-service training to produce skilled manpower required by the industry. Our institute also undertakes studies and research to enhance the growth and development of the hotel and tourism sector and disseminate the findings. It provides consultancy services to tourist service rendering organizations. In cooperation with concerned bodies, it also organizes seminars, symposiums, and workshops on major current issues, research findings and new concepts related to the hotel and Tourism Sector.
As an institute working in the catering sector, we enhance the quality of services, develop training capability by building capability through the use of the latest technologies and other means, we also link up and set good relationship with local and foreign institutions with similar objectives.
In general, I would say the Catering and Tourism Institute is mostly engaged in benefiting the country to produce skilled manpower and competent professionals, by providing training, conducting research, rendering consultancy services, and excelling in catering services.
Ezega News: Continuing the expansion of brand hotels in Ethiopia, there appears to be a renewed push in expanding affordable global hotel brands into the country. Can you explain the main factors for this dynamism?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: Ethiopia is a country who have unique cultural heritage, rich history and remarkable biodiversity which are favorable tourist destination, we also have nine precious UNESCO World Heritage Sites more than any other country in Africa.
A unique heritage and cuisine, together with an ancient coffee culture and thriving arts and crafts scene, ensure that the Ethiopian lifestyle has much to offer curious visitors.
Besides being an attractive and popular emergent tourist destination in Africa, the country is a hub for international organizations. We have a history where our leaders are respected and our voice is heard. This is why hotels should expand in Ethiopia aggressively.
And it is a fact that we still have a huge undersupply of brand hotels in Ethiopia. If you take all the hotels across the country, the capacity is still low to accommodate as many customers as we want. I think we still need to increase and expand as much as we can to address it.
Ezega News: With the rise of branded hotel expansion in Ethiopia, and the fierce competition in the catering sector, do you believe this business accommodates people of all living standards?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: With an increasing number of hotels and catering services, I believe we will be successful with accommodating more of the population. The expansion will also have direct impact on the agricultural sector. Hotel business expansion will also increase the need for better telecommunication services.
Tourists across the world are also keen to come and visit Ethiopia without the concern of having full booked hotel rooms, you see the more we Expand the Business the More attractive our Country is going to be. Besides, as a headquarter for the African Union and other International Organizations and as host of different international events we needed to have more hotels to accommodate to the diplomatic community.
There was a time when Ethiopia wasn’t able to host FIFA because we don’t have enough branded hotels. Therefore the more hotel we have the stronger the competition will be. This will lead to more affordable prices that can accommodate more of our people.
Ezega News: Thousands of Students are being trained and graduating from Hotel and Tourism training schools, such as CTTI, what is the average employability rate of these students?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: CTTI Training Programs give training under two major departments in both regular and extension programs. These departments are classified into tourism and hotel streams. The Departments gives training in various areas, such as food and beverage, food preparation, front office, tour operation, tour guiding, organizational work producers and structures, management systems, human resources management and development, etc. About 2500 students are currently trained, excluding short term trainings.
Most of the trainees get jobs before they are certified. The difficulties of unemployment might occur at times when trainees coming from rural areas who return back to their hometown without searching for jobs in the capital.
Regarding short term training, CTTI provides training in fields such as driving, tour guidance, and related courses. Currently the tourism industry has up to 600-700 tour guidance companies and these companies have gaps in professionals and we are consulting and passing the necessary procedures to fill the gap regarding hotel jobs.
Ezega News: There is criticism of nepotism in employment of personnel, what is your take on this?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: First of all, CTTI has connections with hotels through cooperative training programs where the trainees get theory and practical training through the arrangement we made with the hotels. And during training time, we try to facilitate for students coming from the rural or regionals areas to get pocket money from the respected stakeholders.
CTTI together with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism also has connections with the Association of Hotels and stakeholders to facilitate the employment of our trainees so that we would bear fruit from our training programs as far as cooperative Training Programs is concerned. We don’t have an experience where our students were sent back by the hotels.
Regarding the general employment through nepotism, it is not the mandate of CTTI to track those practices.
Ezega News: According to some, healthy economic development occurs where there is a progressive transformation from Agriculture to manufacturing industry then to service sector. The scenario doesn’t seem to apply in Ethiopia where a transformation seems to be from Agriculture to the Service sector. How do you see this?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: In my opinion, it is important to ask what the country has. I am of the view that Ethiopia hasn’t utilized its potential. As I said before Ethiopia doesn’t have enough catering services to accommodate all favorable tourists. We are still crawling in spite of having rich resources that could attract plenty of visitors from across the world.
I have been to Iceland, a country of great nature. However, compared to Iceland, we are far ahead of them having spectacular nature. But they have many more tourists than we have because of active popularization and radical expansion of the service sector. Ethiopia needs an aggressive expansion of the service sector to have good contribution to its GDP.
The manufacturing industry in Ethiopia is developing through the expansion of industrial parks and I am of the view that the service sector needs the same effort as the industrial sector considering its rich potential.
Ezega News: There is instability across Ethiopia. The catering business is also highly affected due to the reduction of tourists coming to the country. What have you implemented to keep the smooth flow of tourism?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: Ethiopia has passed through many ups and downs. Yes, the country is facing many challenges these days. However, the instability arose not from foreign enemies but due to internal issues. And these challenges can be passed through reconciliation. As CTTI, we will resume and even strengthen our effort to realize the objectives of our institute. Ethiopia needed to be explored and more investors should discover possible areas to invest in the catering sectors across the continent.
Ezega News: The strict foreign currency policy of Ethiopia has affected the country from getting foreign more revenue, what is your take on this?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: I am also of the view that the restrictions on foreign currency will make the country lose tremendous amount of money. People might prefer using black markets or illegal ways of getting foreign currencies and these should only be resolved through opening space where people can get easy access to foreign currencies through legal ways.
There was a time when the Ministry of Culture and Tourism tried preparing MasterCard to have a smooth flow of foreign currency. That is appreciated and should be adopted more in the future.
Ezega News: Ethiopia is said to be one of the virgin markets in Africa. Do you have the same view?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: Yes. I really think so. It is a country that needs to be explored a great deal more.
Ezega News: Do you have final remarks?
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: Ethiopia has many favorite tourist destinations. Tourism business can be constrained by the lack of suitable hotels and other infrastructure. Therefore the government together with the community, business people, and all other stakeholders should join hands to make Ethiopia a favorable place to visitors.
Ezega News: Gezahegn, thank you for your time with Ezega News
Gezahegn Abate Gizawe: Thank you!
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