TOURISM STAKEHOLDERS IN GHANA ADVOCATE FOR INCREASED INVESTMENTS
By Chuks Nwanne, 26th October 2019
Sometimes when people hear about tourism, what usually comes to mind is a vacation to a new destination, a safari, a beautiful vineyard, or a hike in the mountains. However, many rarely think of tourism as a source of inclusive poverty reduction in the developing world.
Globally, tourism is one of the only industries in the world where the ‘good’ or ‘service’ is consumed at the site of production. For this reason, local people are both at an advantage to reap the benefits associated with the sector, but also at risk from exclusion or even the negative impacts it can bring. Notwithstanding, a well planned, regulated and responsible tourism can be an excellent mechanism of channeling resources from rich to poor – even at a large scale.
The implication is that developing countries can leverage tourism to support local companies and entrepreneurs in developing new products and exports. This is largely because the tourism sector provides a means by which local entrepreneurs can experiment with new products and test them on international markets in their home country before exporting.
Available statistics show that some 67 million tourists visited Africa in 2018, representing a rise of 7 per cent from a year earlier, making Africa the second-fastest-growing region when it comes to tourism, after the Asia Pacific. What it means is that African countries, who took the sector serious, are now reaping the benefits from positive policy changes coupled with increased investments in the sector that have made it a more attractive destination for tourists.
During the 2019 African Times Travel Award held last Sunday, at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra Ghana, the need for more investments in the African tourism sector was a major topic, as stakeholders underscored the role of the sector in revenue generation and job creation.
The understanding is that commercial tourism activities provide an opportunity for local people to participate indirect employment, in providing goods and services to tourism businesses through the supply chain, as well as indirect interaction with the tourist (for example crafts, excursions, food, and beverage). The generation of earnings amongst those local people directly involved with the industry, in turn, stimulates indirect spend (of wages) in the local economy.
Speaking at the award ceremony, convener and publisher of Africa Travel Times magazine, Lucky Onoriode George, called on African leaders to invest heavily in tourism and hospitality sectors, describing them as the major foreign exchange earners in the world today.
George, who enumerated the many challenges facing the sector in Africa, particularly in Ghana, urged Ghanaian leaders to move away from the perennial forts and harbours and divert into other areas that would bring foreign exchange and create more jobs for their people.
“I can confirm that Ghana has experienced some improvement in the area of tourism promotion, but there’s room for improvement; there’s a need for more investments. Beyond the usual attractions, there’s a need to open up new sites and promote attractions to attract more visitors. To achieve this, Ghanaian journalists need to take interest in tourism and hospitality reporting as you have in Nigeria. The idea of throwing in tourism stories as news won’t help the sector.”
In his remarks, Dr. Wasiu Babalola, a tourism consultant from Nigeria tasked African youth to take advantage of the many opportunities provided by the sector, urging them to always seek ways to improve on their knowledge.
“There are so many opportunities in this industry, but the problem is that some of our youths are very lazy. Young people must do everything possible to upgrade themselves educationally to become future leaders.”
Managing Director of Ilearn Hospitality and Tourism Training Centre, Jenny Adade, who also spoke at the event said, though Ghana had numerous hospitality centers, the provision of good services was yet to reach its best, as most of them lacked the professionalism to handle their guests.
She informed me that the training center was designed to provide students with practical training and skills that would help them the best in their fields, which intron benefits the sector in general.
“It takes a very long time to build relationships of getting customers, but it takes a very short time to lose them if properly handled,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Royal Father of Day, His Majesty Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III, who stormed the event with his chiefs, assured that the Akwamu areas of Ghana would soon become tourism located in Ghana and West Africa on account of the facilities in the area.
Chaired by Herbert Acquaye, former President, Ghana Hotels Association, the award ceremony, which was initiated six years ago, recognises excellence in the travel and tourism sector in Nigeria, Ghana, West Africa, and beyond. However, this year’s edition assumed a new dimension as a result of interest from more key players in the sector.
Aside from individual awards presented to some deserving practitioners for their outstanding contributions to the growth and development of the sector, winners also emerged from other categories such as hospitality, airlines, national/states, and tourism agencies.
Honoured in the individual category are Chief David Nana Anim, Mr Sajid Khan, Paul Kavanagh, Romam Krabel, Benard Bankole, Mrs Susan Akporiaye and Seth Yeboah Ocran.
In the airline category, Ethiopian Airlines emerged Best Airline International for Africa, Arik Air bagged the Most Recognizable Airline Brand (Nigeria), while Kenya Airways was voted Most Supportive National Carrier for effective promotion of the Kenyan Tourism brand. Air Africa World Airlines also got an award for the Most Reliable/Best Connectivity Airline (West Africa).
In the Hospitality category, Movenpick Ambassador Hotel emerged Best 5 Star Hotel (West Africa) and Hospitality Brand of the Year, while the Royal Senchi Resort emerged Best Resort (West Africa). The Tang Palace Hotel got Best Dining Experience Hotel Of The Year (West Africa), Zaina Lodge won Best Safari Facility, while The Envoy Abuja was voted the Most Modern and Environmental Friendly Facility in West Africa.
In the governments/agencies category, Akwa Ibom State got an award for Top Sport Tourism Destination (West Africa), Rivers State got an award for the Most Supportive Government in Sustaining Tourism Facilities (Nigeria), while Ghana Tourism Authority was awarded Most Active Tourism Agency (West Africa). South African Tourism was voted Most Effective National Marketing Tourism Agency (Africa) for the second year running, while the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture of Ghana emerged as the Most Active in West Africa
In the Ghana category, Labadi Hotel got 5-Star Hotel/Longevity Award, Peduase Valley Hotel won 4-Star Of The Year, African Regent won 3-Star Hotel of the Year/Most Authentic Ghanaian Hotel, while Villa Monticello got the award for Boutique Hotel Of the Year. Maaha Beach Resort emerged Best in Ghana, Accra City Hotel won an award for Green Hotel of the Year, Kwarleyz Residence was awarded Best Apartment, Lou Moon Lodge got an award for Best Eco-Lodge, while Golden Tulip Accra Hotel emerged Best Ghanaian Dining Experience.
Other winners at the well-attended award ceremony include the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) of Nigeria, which emerged as the Most Active culture agency in West Africa; Gambia won Most Visited Destination in West Africa; YOKS Rent A Car, Ghana emerged Best In West Africa.