By Hadra Ahmed, Addis Ababa, Dec 4 IANS | 11 months ago

With India set to be a crucial factor in the development of Ethiopia - the second most populous nation in Africa - as a world-class tourism destination, state-owned Ethiopian Airlines is set to fly into Chennai, its third destination in the sub-continent after New Delhi and Mumbai, a move that will also provide greater connectivity to central and west African nations, an official said.


"India is a good source market for tourism. We expect to have a good share of this market, even one or two per cent of this is significant for us." Ethiopian Airline's senior vice president (Global Sales) Esayas Woldemariam told IANS, alluding to the 13 million Indians who travel abroad annually.

The slogan for the campaign is 'Come, visit Ethiopia'. Ethiopian Airlines has already hosted a group of tour and travel operators from India on a week-long familiarization visit to some of the country's popular destinations.

Ethiopia is setting up a special tourism office in India and has already opened a cultural centre at its embassy in New Delhi to provide information about various aspects of the country.

By next year, Ethiopia plans to establish tourism boards in New Delhi and Mumbai. There are also plans to set up several tourism promotional centres in major Indian cities.

Speaking about the new flight, Ethiopian CEO Tewelde Gebremariam told IANS: "This route is a very important market for us because Chennai is the third largest city in India and there are many Indians living in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, cote d'ivoire, Guinea and so on, which open greater markets."

"Investors as well as guest workers in these countries travel to their home countries at different times as well as for different purposes and we could benefit from that," he added.

Ethiopian, which currently flies daily to New Delhi and twice daily to Mumbai, is also studying other points like Bangalore and Hyderabad. It also has a code sharing agreement with Air India.

"Africa being the investment hub and favoured by Indian investors as also the airline's big network connecting India to Africa have added to the growing economic region," Ethiopian's senior vice president (Global Sales) Esayas Woldemariam told IANS.

"With the large African network we have, we hope we will be in a position to benefit from India and it will definitely contribute to our revenues," he added.

(Hadra Ahmed can be contacted at hadraahmed@gmail.com)

(Posted on 04-12-2013)