File photo shows an Ethiopian dressed up as the Chinese God of Wealth (R front) hands out gifts for Chinese passengers during the special event held at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, Jan. 20, 2017. The Ethiopian Airlines has held a special event for Chinese nationals returning home for the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival. This year's event, the third of its kind held late Friday at Bole International Airport in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, marked many activities to make the airport's Chinese travelers feel at home. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)
ADDIS ABABA, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The number of Chinese tourists to Ethiopia has steadily increased over the last several years, an Ethiopian official has told Xinhua.
The East African country received 41,660 Chinese tourists in 2015, up from 35,383 in 2012, Kasshaun Ayalew, an expert at Ethiopia Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MoCT), told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
Ayalew said although Chinese tourist number was lower than those of American and British tourists, the two largest groups of tourists received by Ethiopia, Chinese tourists tended to stay longer and spend more.
Ayalew said despite Ethiopia facing political turbulence in 2015 and 2016, the number of Chinese tourists visiting its attractions had increased in contrast to western tourists.
The ministry, however, said hospitality institutions are struggling to meet in particular the dietary needs of Chinese tourists, putting a brake on an even faster increase in the arrivals of Chinese tourists.
MoCT is yet to finalize tourist arrivals figures by nationalities for 2016, but Ayalew said he expects the Chinese tourists' figures for 2016 to be greater than 2015.
Ethiopia earned 3.32 billion U.S. dollars from 886,897 tourists that visited the East African country during the Ethiopian Fiscal Year (EFY) 2016/17 that ended July 8.
The country plans to earn 4.5 billion dollars from 1.2 million tourists during the current EFY 2017/18 that started July 9th.
With a view to making tourism a major hard currency earner, Ethiopia is implementing incentives for entrepreneurs involved in the tourism and hospitality industry.