- Need to realign & amend Tourism Strategy to realize Ghana Beyond Aid to unleash rapid, inclusive and holistic socio-economic development
THE devastation and disruption brought about by the corona virus (covid-19) pandemic, the subsequent lockdown and its consequences brought home forcefully the demerits of globalization, the urgent and pressing need for alternative homegrown backup plan which appropriately reinforces the government’s audacious, ambitious, bold and laudable Ghana Beyond Aid Development Blueprint, which must not remain an additional rhetoric and the usual white elephant on our statues.
Just as the laudable Free Senior High School, One District-One Factory (1D-1F) among other bold national policy initiatives.
The Tourism Factor
Tourism has become a very remarkable inclusive, pro-poor, multi-sectoral, holistic , modern , competitive and multi-million development tool and industry, but remains highly neglected and unharnessed over the years.
What’s tourism? One may ask. Tourism defines a very broad socio-economic industry that is founded on a society’s natural, cultural, heritage and man-made resources.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is a Madrid, Spain based UN specialist agency that is mandated to and champions the sustainable and responsible tourism development in the world.
The UNWTO supports member countries and destinations with experts, technical know-how and resources, in harnessing their individual tourism potential.
Best Industry practice
UNWTO has collected, collated data and commissioned studies into the industry over the years , which are summarized as industry blueprints, roadmaps, best industry practice rules, regulations, guidelines and conventions to guide members countries and destinations , to promote sustainable and responsible development and evolution.
UNWTO studies further rated tourism as a very resilient and dynamic industry that re-bounds very stronger and better with improved growth performances after disruptions from natural and man-made disasters and disruptions, over the years.
It also concluded that the industry remains as the foremost fastest, largest and biggest development tool in the global economy with strict adherence and compliance to best industry practice guidelines and regulations.
The industry has an endless potential as a very broad multi-sectoral and multi-million dollar industry that is founded on a society’s natural, man-made, heritage and cultural resources, it is a pro-poor and an endless multi-million board potential, when prioritized and strategically harnessed offers endless opportunities with sustainable jobs, alleviation poverty, foreign exchange, infrastructure and super structure in roads, railways, airports, balance of trade and exports among others.
Until the convid-19 disruption it was the largest, fastest and biggest growing global industry in vogue since the turn of the millennium to date and contributes a huge chunk as well an integral aspect of the gross domestic product (GDP) of many economies across developing and developed economies.
It is a very competitive, sensitive, great inclusive and holistic development tool, when strategically harnessed, dramatically turn around the fortunes as well as transformed many emerging and challenged economies around world.
It is an undisputable fact the country boasts of and has great tourism potential and prospects to become a must experience and attractive model tourism destination, when it is prioritized, invested into and harnessed strategically.
The country has a great buoyant , vibrant and an evergreen promising infant tourism industry which has seen and recorded improved and increased growth in both visitor numbers and receipts on year on year basis consistently over the years.
It currently ranked as the fourth largest contributor to overall national gross domestic product (GDP) growth behind cocoa, gold and remittances abroad, with many industry experts and analysts opining strongly the country’s current growth is way below its real capacity.
There is a very strong conclusion from researches into the country’s tourism potential that the country’s current tourism sector performance is far below its real capacity as result of poor public funding, low budgetary allocations, undeveloped resources, outmoded legislation and legal regime among others.
The current and new Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Dr. Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed Awal at his vetting, at the of Parliament Appointment Committee (PAC), in February corroborated the analysts’ studies and conclusions on the sector with emphatic pronouncements that the country has potential to generate over GHC5 Billion revenue annually to GDP, when repositioned and harnessed.
The industry though has great prospects and potential has a litany of challenges to contend with that impede its growth. Notable among these challenges include poor public funding and budgetary allocations, undeveloped and undocumented resources and others.
Others are fragmentation and duplication of tourism resources between the statutory national technical ministry, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and its implementing agencies and other allied ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
Source: Research & Statistics Directorate, Ghana Tourism Authority
The pandemic disruption offers the country a rare opportunity to undertake a comprehensive re-evaluation, realignment and amendment on the overall national tourism nomenclature to address noted issues of fragmentation, duplication and overlaps as well as amend outdated tourism legislation and legal regime.
Additionally there is the need to consider merging strategic frontline tourism analogue sister agencies ,especially the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), National Commission on Culture (NCC) and the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMBB) into a bigger, well -resourced and retooled Ghana Tourism Development Commission.
Tourism is a strategic inclusive and holistic development tool, there is therefore need to rethink tourism development and elevate tourism from a neglected footnote into the frontline as a strategic frontline tool to promote inclusive, holistic and balanced development and ultimately reposition the country as an attractive tourism hub.
Tourism indeed must be become a frontline development tool away front its current position as a neglected development footnote.
Let us use tourism to restore post-pandemic growth momentum, a launch-pad to advance the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda as well as the key to evolve a robust diversified, competitive, strong, sustainable, modernized and diversified and inclusive holistic homegrown socio-economic order and model for others.
The country’s tourism sector related legislation and legal regime is duplicative and outdated, among them include the Tourism and the Tourism Development Fund Act 2011, Act 817, the Film Authority and Film Development Fund Act 2016, Act 935, the National Commission on Culture (NCC) Law 1990, PNDCL 238, the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMBB) Act 1969, NLCD 387, as well the Creative Arts Agency and the Creative Arts Fund Act 2020.
This call for need to review all tourism related legislation review to amend and consolidate the fragmented pieces of legislation into a unified and consolidated document to reposition the sector for rapid growth.
Tourism sector reforms, harmonization, must also result in improve funding, retooling, staffing and resourcing the sector, to promote inclusive and holistic national socio-economic development.
The country in 2019, which was the 400th Anniversary of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, dubbed the Year of Return (YOR), saw and recorded an increased tourism traffic, especially from South America, an implication that heritage tourism aside culture is another strategic unique tourism selling point (USP), that must be harnessed.
A monument at the historic slavery market at Atorkor, Anloga District.
Beautiful coconut plantations are very popular in the Anloga District
The writer is Brands & Tourism Analyst.