Since 2002 Dinknesh have been organising group and private trips to all areas of Ethiopia, with different tours types including historical, cultural, wildlife and even adventure.
We spoke with Mulugeta, Dinknesh's MD for his story behind how the tour company became a success.
Mulugeta Muluneh had used his Economics degree in the banking sector for more than three decades, before switching to Mulugent PLC - an importing and exporting business. Here he became aware that due to negative media images, Ethiopia was only associated with famine and drought. He passionately wanted to change that, so Mulugent PLC launched Dinknesh Ethiopia Tours.
Dinknesh wanted to reveal the real situation in Ethiopia and enable the outside world to witness the historical, cultural and natural wonders of the country. For the last 18 years, they have worked incredibly hard to promote the destination and change its image!
"We wanted to reveal the true Ethiopia, enabling the outside world to witness the historical, cultural and natural wonders of our country" he commented.
They have a great range of in-house expertise and this has helped establish a good reputation within the tourism industry. They travel to many conferences across the world, promoting the destination and all the tourist attractions that can be found in and around Ethiopia. Deputy manager, Araya Mulugeta has a MBA degree from Addis Ababa University and has been a university lecturer specialising in tourism.
Dinknesh’s management unsurprising love gaining feedback from happy clients that have enjoyed the experiences and services they provide. Clients sometimes start their visit with a very negative perception of Ethiopia but all finish their tour with a very different and positive perception, well beyond their expectations.
Araya admires many aspects of his homeland, but he’s a big wildlife fan with the endemic Ethiopian Wolf and Gelada Baboon his favourites. He states that if he wasn’t in tourism, he’d have done Humanitarian work, as he says “I’d do anything to support Ethiopia as a country to develop.”
Mulugeta feels that Ethiopia has become an emerging tourist destination and has recently gained plenty of positive media coverage. “The image of the country is changing with more and more people planning to visit" he added.
Dinknesh are keen to see an increased focus on responsible tourism, in particular sustainability. As Araya stated “Most tourism products are so delicate and can easily be lost. Unless we manage them in a responsible manner, we cannot ensure they stay around for years to come. Tourism in Ethiopia is growing at a steady rate - however we still have a long way to go in terms of sustainability.”
The main selling point of Dinknesh Ethiopia Tours is its efficient and quality service – they feel they offer the best value for money of any DMC. Mulugeta feels that in recent years the number of Ethiopian DMC’s has increased by more than 200%. Whilst he states that this is a positive trend, he is concerned to see that many are competing solely on price by using old vehicles, run-down hotels and inexperienced guides. As Mulugeta states “This often leads to customer dissatisfaction, which will hurt the reputation of not just that DMC, but Ethiopia’s tourism as a whole.
“We believe we have the best organised operational system for an efficient service, with prompt responses. We focus on customer satisfaction and safety at all times, and I can confidently state that our guides are some of the best in the industry.”
Dinknesh strongly recommend UK operators conduct Dinknesh fam-trips to experience and build confidence in the company as well as developing a good understanding of what Ethiopia offers. “It helps operators see how we work and witness our strong relationships with stakeholders in the industry for themselves.”
To illustrate their innovative approach and to increase travel options, they now have excellent mobile camping equipment, using the very latestV8 land cruiser. Dinknesh has recently updated their code of conduct that focuses on responsibility and sustainability, as well as updating their Tour Operators Crisis Response Plan.
Dinknesh are about to move into new purpose-built offices in Addis. Spacious and scenic, they include a dedicated client welcome suite where guests will be briefed and invited to sample a legendary Ethiopian coffee.
For more information on Dinknesh please email Araya or contact Tim Henshall at Kamili.