Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, has said that Ghana would fully harness the opportunities that come with being at the centre of the world.
She said there would be an iconic tower at the centre of the world on the Greenwich Meridian in Tema, to further reinforce the plan to reposition Ghana on the global tourism map.
“Our nation’s geographical location was determined following the world declaration of Greenwich as the Prime Meridian on October 13, 1884 in Washington DC.”
Mrs Afeku said this when she addressed participants of the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum and Awards 2018, on the theme: “Inspiring intra-Africa travel growth through innovative leadership”, on Friday in Accra.
She said tourism, culture and Creative Arts had become one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and highly competitive socio-economic and environmental activity in both developed and developing countries.
She said it was a labour intensive industry, as it created skilled and unskilled jobs in the supply and value chain as emphasised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, that one in every eleven direct jobs is created by the tourism industry.
Mrs Afeku said “it provides small-scale employment opportunities such as travel and tours, craft villages, music and dance, local Ghanaian cuisine among others.”
She noted that tourism receipts provided an important source of foreign exchange, contributing to the government’s tax revenues and enabling economic growth.
“As a result of public and private sector investment in infrastructure and superstructure facilities and services, inflow of tourist’s arrivals and tourism receipt have increased. The growth and development of the sector is hinged on the diversity of Ghana’s historical, cultural and eco-tourism assets which when fully developed would make the country a very competitive and preferred tourism destination in Africa.”
The Minister noted that, Ghana had also decided to position itself as a Meeting Incentive, Conference and Exhibition (MICE) and is taking steps towards achieving that.
Fully packaged calendar of events, informed by 2013 to 2027 tourism development master plan, promotional campaign in key source market, promotion of domestic tourism through ‘See, Eat, Wear and Feel Ghana’ campaigns, the relaunch of the website visitghana.com among others, were some of the steps Ghana was taking to achieve MICE.
She said Ghana had a wide range of unique and exciting natural, cultural and historical attraction as well as a number of events with international and domestic appeal including PANAFEST and Emancipation day celebrations, paragliding festival, carnivals, choral festivals, national festival of arts and culture homogenous festival, and was embarking on a number of flagship projects to draw more tourists into the country.
“Our goals are set, the path seems clear and leadership shown by the President of Ghana shows that tourism in Ghana and Africa has come of age and it’s been mainstreamed as a main economic force and we all must play our part, re-energize that the continent can be sold as a preferred tourism destination to share our beautiful sight with the rest of the world.”
Mrs Frema Osei-Opare, Chief of Staff, said in Ghana many initiatives were taking place because government has placed a renewed focus on the tourism sector, saying attention had been directed to the sector through partnership, aggressive marketing, as well as inter-ministerial committees to ensure that all pillars were raised for the development of the sector.
She said in today’s world travel and tourism as a catalyst for growth could not be taken for granted as it contributed greatly to the sustainable development of countries and noted that diversification required world class infrastructure, aggressive marketing and called for collaboration with their neighbours to have a wider spectrum of tourism activities.
Mrs Osei-Opare urged participants to make commitments to ensure the sector was a better coordinated one so as to optimise it as a catalyst for diversification.
The forum is a Pan-African dialogue platform that brings together key stakeholders from Africa’s travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors to network, share insights and devise strategies for sustainable travel and tourism development across the continent, while enhancing brand Africa’s equity.
It is aimed at providing a permanent platform for innovative leadership dialogue to drive sustainable growth in Africa’s tourism economy and serve as a platform to exchange ideas and network amongst stakeholders from the continent.
It is also to optimise industry leadership alliance to take charge in driving growth in intra-Africa tourist arrivals, to give new drive to innovative leadership in pursuit of the creation of opportunities for al Africans through tourism, while inspiring and motivating young tourism and women entrepreneurs.
The awards is also aimed at recognising game-changing individuals and groups initiatives that were helping to ensure that brand Africa still had a positive narrative around it.
The awards categories included, leading in progressive policies award, outstanding entrepreneur award, and women in leadership award, outstanding leisure tourism destination award, outstanding business tourism destination award, outstanding airline award, outstanding Africa tourism media award, champion sustainability award and destination Africa-life-time award.