Among the many sectors hit hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry is in frontline. The pandemic apart from limiting the movement of people and affecting their day to day activities, it has posed greater threat to countries’ economies especially on those their economies are more dependent on tourism and earning the largest returns from the tourism industry. Unluckily, people working in the tourism industry are affected severely.
Many employees have lost their jobs and the incomes of individual entrepreneurs declined more than ever before, and as studies indicate, the declines, in the majority of countries, were much larger than the crunches experienced during the global financial crisis. As a result, the rates of unemployment have escalated.
Ethiopia is no exception in this regard. As one of the world’s countries, its tourism industry felt the impact of the pandemic greatly. However, currently, the country is working untiringly to reviving the sector and bringing it back (attracting tourists) through taking various key recovery measures, improving infrastructure, developing new tourist destinations and promote local tourism.
As part of these efforts, recently, Tourism Ethiopia and Facebook have collaborated to offer digital marketing program known as ‘Boost with Facebook for Tourism Ethiopia’ to help Ethiopian Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) in tourism and hospitality sector that have been most affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
As to Facebook’s Global State of Small Business Report released last year, the tourism and hospitality industries were the hardest hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thus, the ‘Boost with Facebook program’ which was launched in August 2020 as a pilot program in Ethiopia aims to help 5,000 businesses in the tourism sector learn how to use the Facebook family of apps (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) to boost their businesses’ marketing efforts online.
Commenting on the program, Weldegebrial Berhe, Marketing Director at Tourism Ethiopia said, “Tourism Ethiopia is delighted to work with Facebook and Summer Media to implement ‘the Boost with Facebook Program’ for Tourism Ethiopia.
“We encourage tourism stakeholders and Small and Medium Businesses to sign up and equip themselves with the necessary digital marketing skills they need to recover from the losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to enhance the online presence of Ethiopia as a tourist destination.”
Mercy Ndegwa, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy in East & Horn of Africa also said: “We remain committed to supporting governments and the private sector across the region in recovering their economies disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As to her, now is more important to equip and empower businesses, communities and the next generation of leaders to better utilize the power of digital tools and take full advantage of what the internet has to offer.”
The program is currently being run virtually through instructor-led live webinars sessions by Summer Media, a local digital marketing company in Ethiopia.
The program aims to help its participants identify business constraints caused by COVID-19, learn how to manage stranded assets and develop new strategies and business initiatives to survive the pandemic.
In addition to this, the program also equips SMB’s with the required skills on building an online presence with Facebook, storytelling on Instagram, connecting with audiences through Facebook groups, growing business through Whatsapp and implementing advertising strategies on Facebook’s family of apps.
Facebook has been supporting SMB’s across SSA through a number of Economic Impact programs, including Boost with Facebook, SheMeans Business, Digify Pro and Aspiring Entrepreneurs Program which are helping equip thousands of SMBs to leverage digital tools to achieve their business goals. Since June last year Facebook has been offering these programs virtually through instructor led live webinar sessions featuring presentations, demos and virtual discussions.
Needless to say that people use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
The number of active monthly users on the site (as of March 2020) is an astonishing 2.6 billion people. Around 1.5 billion users log onto Facebook on a daily basis. This clearly depicts platform’s market potential- which means there is a huge active audience for marketing efforts.
In essence of this, the introduction of the program will have substantial rewards in terms of promoting country’s tourism potential, reducing the exposure and vulnerability of the sector from the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, making the economy more resilient as well as assisting those people engaged in Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs).