Somaliland attends the 59th UNWTO Commission for Africa Meeting – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


Somaliland Diaspora Agency (SLDA) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation of the Republic of Somaliland attended in the 59thUNWTO Commission for Africa Meeting and a High-level Meeting on Chinese Outbound Tourism to Africa on 18-20 April, 2017 at Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa, and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. 

Representing the Somaliland Government, we have attended in this international occasion to create relationship with the UNWTO and its Commission for Africa, promotes Somaliland’s relations and friendship within the region, Africa as well asthe diverse international community stakeholders, and contribute to Somaliland’s tourism development. 

Delegates from nearly 100 member states including nearly 20 tourism ministers, DGs, ambassadors, departmental directors, advisors, and senior officials mostly from ministries of tourism, as well as some affiliate and associate members, Ethiopian Tourism Organization and so many Ethiopian tourism associations, tour operators and guides, other African, Chinese, Asian and International companies which operate in the tourism development, travel and of related missions include China National Tourism Administration, Global Tour International Travel Service Co. Ltd,  Alliance Tourism Consulting, Asia-pacific AVIAREPS, PRIMAPACT GROUP, Eti-Oni Development Group, International Tourism Trade Fair, and many others entered for the conference. 

Accompanied with the 2nd Secretary of the Somaliland Mission in Addis Ababa, Ms Ladna Rabbi, we shortly spoke to and/or took petite meetings with some the notable delegates from different countries including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Cape Verde, Seychelles, Togo,  Mali, Zambia, Central Africa, Gambia, South Africa, Benin, Guinea, China, Spain, some of the UNTWO managing team namely Deputy Director, Director and the honored outgoing Secretary General,  key departmental directors of Diaspora Coordination, Youth & Women, Accreditation, and Statistics of the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture & Tourism, and other important persons, companies and organizations. 

We have shortly briefed the Minister of Culture & Tourism of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Hon. Madam Hirut Woldemariam about the attendance of Somaliland in the meeting and also requested in a word of mouth to consider all the possible technical support for capacity enhancement of the Somaliland tourism sector development that as a ministry she can provide to us, and also the need for strengthening departmental collaboration, information and experience sharing of the ministries of similar functions of the two friendly countries, such as between the tourism and culture institutions.As Somaliland, we are learning a lot of best practices and beneficial experiences from Ethiopia in both the Diaspora engagement and the tourism management.  In the meeting, one of the dignitaries, we met also included Chairman of Ethiopia Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, Sheikh Mohamed Amin Jamal and his Protocol Officer.

Of the key potential companies participated in the conference, we met the Principal of the company “Primapact Group” which is a Global Business Consultancy for Tourism and Related Businesses, Stephen B. Richer, briefed him about Somaliland the tourism sector and asked for cooperation .  

On the other hand, whadtaken the opportunity to verbally ask for the UNWTO to consider Somaliland to join as associate member in order to enable us have access to opportunities and assistances for sustainable tourism development in Somaliland address the challenging issues in the sector. 

Several stimulating speeches were given by the UNWTO Secretary General, Chairman, Executive Director, different African ministries of tourism including the outspoken Minister of Culture & Tourism of Ethiopia, ambassadors, as well as the Chinese delegation which all focused on the need for sustainable tourism development, in policy and practical approaches, priorities, opportunities and challenges in the sector especially in the African countries, the Chinese tourism outbound to Africa, and what the enabling interventions of African states to attract huge portions of this outbound are. The Africa has nearly one third of the 157 UNTWO member states and has more potential for tourism but yet only receives 3% share in tourism receipts and 5% in worldwide arrival according to UNWTO Report 2015, which shows the setback and underdevelopment of the sector in Africa. The 59th Meeting of UNTWO Commission for Africa emphasized the urgent need for African power holders and the public to fortify their joint, collective and close cooperation, collaboration, facilitating intra-Africa travelling, improving and innovating services such as hotels, tour operating and guides, travelling, technology etc. The UN marked 2017 as the year of sustainable tourism development – and to further contribute o the SDGs goals.

Mr. Walter Mzembi from Zambia and Ambassador  Madam Dho Young-shim from South Korea who include in the candidates for the position of the UNTWO Secretary General were also among the participants and especially Mr. Mzembi delivered a thrilling speech in support of his candidacy. 

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNTO) has 157 member states ,  6 associate members including  including Hong Kong,  Aruba, Flanders, Puerto Rico, 2 observer members including Palestine and about 500 affiliate members who are mostly nongovernmental organizations, companies and other private institutions of tourism functions. 

The UNWTO has helped many countries develop tourism master plans, relevant policies and procedures, and regularly provides capacity and capability building assistances for the member countries and other members. 

I believe Somaliland is suitably fulfilling the UNTWO legal requirements for becoming Associate Member and this would actually enable us improve the country’s tourism potential, respond to presently undermining obstacles and critical challenges in the sector, provide institutional and regulatory policy development for the protection of the currently endangered cultural heritages and the national tourism resources, and would be opportunity to further explore the different types the sector related areas. 

On behalf of Somaliland, I am thankful to the UNTWO Commission for Africa and the Ministry of Culture & Tourism of Ethiopia for giving us the chance to participate in this significant conference to make exposure of Somaliland and our tourism resources, interact with and introduce new friends and divergent valuable stakeholders. 

Somaliland is historically regarded as a home and residence to one of the earliest civilizations in the Horn of Africa. The most important feature showing civilization is thought to be the Neolithic cave paintings of Laas-Geel at laas Geel District, east of Hargeisa dating 5,000 years before discovered by French Archeologists in 2002

Somaliland is rich of tourism resources including eco, religious and more rock art tourism as well as the remains of old and historic towns and seaports such as Zeila, Bulahar, Madduna etc in all the major six regions of Somaliland. As so far is known, there are over 20tourism sites (Record of the Tourism & Culture Ministry 2016).  The tourism sector is very potential and significant economic opportunity for Somaliland and the government is building strategic product development and marketing of Somaliland as a destination for foreign tourists aspiring to visit the greater Horn of Africa region.  However, the sector still lacks the necessary investment for further exploration, regulatory policies, technical capacity, marketing, protection and preservation as well. 

As categorized by the Ministry of Culture & Tourism, Somaliland tourism comprises of Eco-tourism Products, Religious Tourism Products, Archeological Tourism Products and Health Tourism Products.,,–EWhJncaQg,  

There are elevating government efforts in building up the sector of which the last has been recent presidential decree in appointing the Minister of Culture and Tourism just separating it from the other Ministry of Youth & Sports. There are also few Diaspora entrepreneurs investing cultural centers, and including theenlightening and innovative Somali traditional/culture center of Hidda-dhawr in Hargeisa. The travel agencies, tours and transportation logistics related businesses also seem to be very boosting up in Somaliland which is all propping up the global connections with Somaliland. The highly noticeable increase of the attractive, modern and first class hotels in Hargeisa and in the other major cities mostly invested and founded by Somaliland entrepreneurs from the Diaspora is also adding more value to the optimistic and expectant future of the Somaliland tourism sector development. 

In my conclusion of this long press statement is the amazing success story and good exemplary achievement of the tourism business, the case of Mrs. Zainab Anzell, Tanzanian and Somaliland origin, the director of the most famous, unrivaled number one Kilimanjaro trekking company and one of the largest safari operators in the East Africa