By Elias Gebreselassie
Djibouti, the small Horn of Africa nation plays an outsized role in the region and the globe due to it being landlocked Ethiopia’s major sea outlet and for hosting several foreign military bases.
However, Djibouti is planning to diversify its economy beyond port and foreign military bases fees with a focus especially on its tourism potential.
Osman Abdi Mohammed, CEO of National Tourism Office of Djibouti, says his government is already working to boost the country’s tourism potential.
“We have a lot of things to offer regarding touristic opportunities, we’re not New York, Washington D.C., Dubai, but we have beautiful sights for visitors. We have many landscapes, beautiful beaches and welcome people from all over the world to come and visit our country” said Osman.
Osman also said his country has set a five years long tourism target, as part of plans to become a tourist hub in the region.
“Our International arrivals have increased on average by 14 percent annually in recent years. Djibouti was ranked one of the Top 10 countries to visit by Lonely planet in 2018. We’ve already organized a national tourism forum and we’re preparing a strategic tourism draft plan” he said.
“We plan to increase our tourism target from the current 3 percent of GDP to 5 percent of GDP in five years’ time, while increasing tourist numbers from 140,000 in 2017 to 500,000 by 2022” he further said.
Osman also said his country is open to anyone wanting to invest in the tourism sector and is working to diversify the tourist clientele from across the globe.
“We need investors to come not only for hotels, but also to invest in leisure infrastructure. Djibouti seeks to attract tourists from far as wide field as from the likes of France and China. For this purpose we plan to start language training programs in English, Amharic and Chinese Mandarin languages” said Osman.
Already Osman’s invitation to invest in Djibouti’s tourism sector is being reciprocated by Tadiwos Getachew, from Ethiopia who is currently heavily invested in Djibouti’s hospitality sector.
Tadiwos already owns about 11 resorts and lodges in Ethiopia employing around 3,000 people.
Tadiwos has recently commissioned a classic seashore restaurant on the banks of the red Sea in Djibouti, built at a cost of around 2 million U.S. dollars and lying on 2,000 square meters.
The restaurant can accommodate over 400 customers and is the first of its kind in East Africa. The restaurant which lies on the banks of Red Sea has magnificent, beautiful view” he said.
“Djibouti is an undiscovered destination, the most beautiful red sea water with a lot of things to see including sightseeing the whale shark, beautiful diving centers and miles of white sand and blue water” he further said.