INDUSTRY/profession and or vocation specific calendar events and legislations including the World Tourism Day (WTD), World Pharmacy Day (WPD), World Blood Day (WBD), the Tourism Act 2011, Act 817, the Public Health Act 2012, Act 815 and a host of others have diverse significant positive effects and impacts on the fortunes, health, progress and evolution of their specific professions, industries and or vocations concerned everywhere worldwide.
World Tourism Day (WTD) otherwise called United Nations World Tourism Day (WTD), which is celebrated annually on September 27th across the world and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the UN tourism international specialist agency, for instance stand out as the two most important universal anniversary on the international tourism calendar and the industry’s most prized multilateral strategic and important frontline specialist agency, which are peerless with remarkable significant influence and impact on the evergreen universal dynamic and robust industry, whose advices, directions , instructions and events attract special and utmost attention from all tourism frontline players, analysts, researchers, collaborators, consumers, consultants, investors and partners alike across the world.
Tourism is an outstanding, inclusive, broad, holistic and international and universal industry which is founded on man-made, natural, heritage and cultural resources.
It is a multi-million dollar modern industry, which occupies a very strategic position, stands out and plays crucial role in the socio-cultural and economic development , evolution, transformation and overall competitive socio-economic outlook , impact , influence and or the socio-economic stature of individuals, communities, societies, countries in the world, individually and collectively.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is the astute UN specialist agency, which has the mandate for and champions and promotes sustainable and responsible tourism development and evolution across the world.
The UN specialist agency collects and collates industry primary, secondary and tertiary data, which it processes to conduct regular, scientific and expertise researches and studies into and on the industry trends and from which the UNWTO also develops best industry practices, conventions, ethics, guidelines, rules, regulations and protocols to guide all destinations and member countries towards responsible and sustainable tourism development and evolution around the world.
Convention 1:10 is a sustainable tourism development protocol which identified and established that very vibrant and resilient domestic tourism industry is the indispensable cornerstone for beneficial and sustainable tourism development, growth and evolution. 1:10 as best industry practice protocol further espouses that for every one (1) international touristic activity at a destination, there must be ten (10) corresponding domestic/ indigenous touristic activities at the facility and or destination involved.
I: 10 stands-out as the most prominent, evergreen and foremost overbearing tourism best industry practice protocol of all time among other industry conventions, rules, guidelines and regulations.
Multiple studies and researches by the UNWTO and other astute sister analogue bilateral , multilateral and collaborating international specialist agencies including the World Tourism and Travel Council, (WTTC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP),United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) among others have concluded and reaffirmed that tourism evolution and for that matter the tourism industry has come to stay, as such the evergreen industry would see and record improved and appreciable development and growth with bigger and greater impact on the world’s overall socio-economic order and wellbeing for a very long time to come, so long as industry investors, practitioners, players, collaborators and stakeholders strictly adhere to and comply with all UNWTO tried, tested and proven best industry practices ,protocols, regulations, conventions and other industry guidelines.
National Tourism Potential-mix & National Tourism Register
Ghana Our Homeland boasts of, has great and outstanding national tourism potential and other tourism related priceless and unique strengths as tourism competitive advantages, including the exact Centre of Our Homeland and its associated natural landmarks at Kintampo in the Kintampo North Municipality at Kintampo in the Bono East Region as well as the Equator and the Greenwich Meridian and their imposing associated natural landmarks , both are located in the Tema Metropolis in the Greater Accra Region of the Country, in the historic town of Tema .
Notable among other national tourism heritage resources include several historic slave trade, slavery and colonial forts and castles and other related slavery landmarks including Slave markets, rivers and wells in Anloga, Assin Fosu ,Salaga , Gwolu Slave Defense Walls, Assin Fosu Slave River, Memorial Gardens and Research Centre among others.
Among national natural tourism resources consists of a number of attractive eco-tourism sites around the country side, including the towering mountain Afaja (Afadjato) at Amedzofe as well as the Amedzofe community, which are on record as the highest human habitation points in the country among others.
Thousands of acres of clean coconut plantation dominated and decorated beautiful beachfronts across the country, from the South at Aflao through Anloga, Ada, Accra, Cape Coast to Axim, in the West, Kakum Forest Reserves, National Park and its evergreen Canopy Walkways at Kakum National Park at Kakum, in the Central Region are other outstanding and popular national natural tourism attractions of the Motherland, once called the Gold Coast by early European Explorers as a result of the sheer volumes of Gold, which were found in our soil, of which we still hold the world record as the producers of one the best and outstanding qualities of gold in the world market.
- Africa’s Biggest Tree
There is the Baku Tree in the Espan Forest Reserves, at Espan near Oda in the Asene Manso-Akroso District (AM-ADA), in the Eastern Region, Baku stands out as West Africa’s Biggest Tree in history, as an attraction which is also a very popular destination for and among many environmentalists, plant medicine analysts, consultants, researchers, conservationists and others.
The Evergreen Wli Waterfalls, at Wli near Hohoe in the Hohoe Municipal Assembly (HMA) in the Volta Region also stands out as West Africa’s tallest waterfalls, which has over the years attend a rare cult status, prominence, popular and the preferred destination among many eco-tourism patrons, environmentalists, researchers and others. Beside Wli are other attractive eco-tourism resources such as other waterfalls including Tagbo Waterfalls, Wadjakli Waterfalls, Wild life and Game also located in the Hohoe Municipality, whilst others are found in the Afadjato South District (ASD), Ho-West District (HWD) and other beautiful and charming waterfalls in the country including Begro Waterfalls, Boti Waterfalls, Tinni Waterfalls and Ote Waterfalls are other outstanding national natural tourism assets, are located at Begro in the Fanteakwa North District, Yilo District, Atiwa West District and others.
Political stability, relative national peace and security, warm national hospitality are soft and priceless tourism unique selling points, (USPs) which repositioned and gives the country competitive advantage over its competitors, in the competitive tourism index.
National special tourism treasures and events
A numbers of creative and innovative events on the national tourism calendar which have repositioned the country as an emerging tourism destination hub include the Pan-African Theatre and Arts Festival ( PANAFEST), Emancipation Day, National Chocolate Day, Wli Waterfalls Festival, National Hang-Paragliding Festivals are among raft of special events which make the country attractive and competitive touristically.
Tourism Sector Performance
Attractive national tourism potential does not automatically translate into an attractive and competitive destination overnight, it takes a lot strategic planning, creative and innovative reengineering to transform from potential endowment into competitive attractive destinations, moreover when tourism with the aid of technology and information and communication technology (ICT), has become a very competitive universal cash-cow within the global village, destinations consciously strategically investment into their tourism potential, adopting a lot strategic planning, creative and innovative reengineering to transform into outstanding, competitive and attractive cash-cow destinations and prominent tourism hubs in the ever competitive and dynamic industry and among the international tourism competitive league index, which are regularly reviewed and updated , to be in tune with consumer needs, wants and industry trends .
The sector currently ranked as the fourth (4th) largest contributor to gross domestic product (GDP), behind cocoa, gold and remittances from Ghanaians abroad, consistently over the years.
Ghana’s infant tourism industry has seen and recorded improved growth in both visitor numbers and receipts on year-on-year basis consistently over the years , however, there is a very strong school of thought among tourism industry and development analysts, researchers, the academia and others that Ghana’s current tourism sector and industry performance and output is way below its real capacity and the urgent need to reengineer the sector to take its rightful place shaping an attractive, competitive, diversified, expanded and modern national economy outlook.
Dr. Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed AWAL, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), has unambiguously agreed with the school thought that the national tourism sector performance leaves much to be desired, with a commitment to guide and reposition the sector to become the foremost contributor to GDP by 2024, during his vetting at Appointment Committee of Parliament (ACP).
Tourism Act 2011 & Ghana Tourism Authority
Legislations and legal regimes (L&LRs), the Tourism Act 2011, Act 817 is the most current Law on Ghana’s statues as the most suitable and applicable legislation as far the conduct of business in the Ghanaian tourism industry is concerned in the Ghanaian jurisdiction.
The Law went through the rigorous and strenuous legislative processes, including collaborators, development partners and other identified strategic stakeholders’ consultations, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s consultations and the legislative procedure full cycle and finally received Presidential Assent as Law on 16th May 2011.
Ghana Tourism Authority
The enactment in chapter one (1), paragraph one (1) created the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) , a Body Corporate (BC) , with a dual mandate, as the statutory national tourism regulator (NTR) as well as the national destination management organization , (DMO) and manager) for Ghana as a national corporate brand among the comity of nations and their sovereign national tourism identities, as the foremost frontline and strategic implementing agency (SIA) of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), the foremost national technical ministry (NTM) under the Office of the Civil Service (OCS) , as far as the overall national tourism development, specifically repositioning the tourism sector as an integral and main key pillars in the overall national socio-cultural and economic development and transformation agendum is concerned.
Governing Board Body
The Tourism Law, Act 817 in section four (4) created and provided for an eleven (11)-Member Governing Body Board (GBB) for the GTA, consisting of a Chairperson who is from the private sector , three persons appointed from the tourism private sector with the requisite professional qualification taking gender balance into consideration and a representative each, who is not below the rank of Director from the private sector, which chairs the Board and others drawn from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), ministries of finance and economic planning (MOFEP),local government , rural development and decentralization (MOLGR&D),lands and natural resources (MOLNR),chieftaincy and religious affairs (MOC&RA) and environment, science ,technology and innovation (MOESTI) as well as the GTA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) .
The reconstituted GTA Board and Non-Executive Directors, which was inaugurated on September 14 include Mr. Charles Osei-Bonsu, a former Acting Executive Director, GTA and a member of the immediate past Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministerial Advisory Board and a presidential nominee chairs the Board. Other presidential nominees on the Board include Mrs. Dentaa Amoateng MBE, Madam Comfort Yamoah and Mr. Gbati Jacob Najombe as well as Mr.Akwasi Agyeman, Chief Executive Officer, GTA.
Other are John Yao Agbeko, Chief Director, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is the Ministry’s representative on the board, whilst Mrs. Cecilia Sheitu Nyadia and Mr. Samuel Seth Passah represent the Ministries of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MOESTI) and Local Government, Decentralization and Rural Development (MOLGD&RD), Mrs. Eva Esselba Mends, Ministry of Finance,Mrs. Fati Lily Soale, Ministry of Chieftaincy & Religious Affairs and Mohammed Abdul-Karim represents the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
The Tourism Law in section two (2) stated, “to promote the sustainable development of the tourism industry internationally and within the country”, as the foremost key object of the Law, Act 817 and for that matter the GTA”.
GTA’s mandate & functions
Act 817, 2011, labelled as the Tourism Act, which created GTA as body corporate and the statutory national tourism regulator , further in section three (3) gave GTA a sixteen-point mandate and or guideline and tasks, to implement to attain its objectives, among include to implement and ensure compliance to regulations developed in accordance with the Act, grant licences for the tourism industry, regulate and supervise tourism enterprises, as well as regulate and monitor the activities of licensees. The law mandates GTA to initiate, conduct, promote and encourage studies for the growth and development of the tourism industry.
Additionally, the law tasked the Authority to ensure pro-poor, sustainable and responsible tourism development in the country. It further imposed on GTA the responsibility to develop standards and guidelines for designs for use at tourist attractions and enterprises to reflect Ghanaian culture.
The need to take appropriate measures for the safety and security of consumers of the tourism industry is also the mandate of the Authority.
Other GTA’s responsibilities imposed on GTA as provided by Act 817 are include to identify and acquire suitable land for tourism development as well as perform any other functions incidental or conducive to the attainment of the object of the Authority as frontline and key responsibilities that the Tourism Act imposed on the Authority, collection, compilation and publication of information and statistics in respect of activities regulated under this act as well as advise the Minister of Tourism on policy issues generally on matters related to the tourism industry are other demands that the law imposed on the Ghana Tourism Authority.
Tourism –As Strategic Socio-Economic Catalyst
The country in the 80s in search for new, strategic and reliable sectors for socio-economic reconstruction and diversification commissioned series of studies and researches into the tourism sector, whose conclusions returned very positive, the erstwhile Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government subsequently in 1990 formally designated the tourism sector as well as other Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) including arts and artifacts, herbal medicinal plants, yam, local textiles, handicrafts and others as major and strategic frontline new export commodities for economic reconstruction new socio-economic development and transformation.
The government subsequently promulgated the PNDCL 238, 1990, which effectively created the National Commission on Culture (NCC), as a strategic, well-resourced and statutory body corporate, presidential commission (PC),of cabinet rank and mandate as the statutory national institution with dual mandate as the frontline national cultural heritage custodian and regulator, controller and promoter, to compliment and join forces with the erstwhile Ghana Tourist Board (GTB), to reposition the infant tourism industry for accelerated and rapid development and growth as new and key sector for socio-economic reconstruction and transformation.
1993, Birth of MOT- Bold &firmer National Commitment to harnessing tourism potential
The country sustained national tourism development tourism initiatives into the civilian and democratic transition, the onset of and the formal transition into the Fourth (4Th) Republic in 1993, also coincided with the historic and formal creation of the Ministry of Tourism (MOT), at the inception of the 4th Republic, in January 1993, which was hitherto clamped and treated as footnote with other equally and demanding sectors including trade, information, education and others.
The creation of MOT was very significant and historic in several senses, commendable, reflecting bolder and firmer national confidence in tourism as a frontline socio-economic frontier, catalyst and pillar for socio-economic reconstruction, diversification and expansion.
The creation and commencement of formal business in 1993 by the Ministry effectively opened the floodgates for accelerated national tourism development in several ways, firstly it granted the tourism sector autonomy as a competitive and frontline socio-economic development player, which was before 1993, lumped with other equally strategic and important sectors, which action deprived tourism development the crucial and critical national funding, investments, resources and personnel.
1996 Strategic Blueprint & roadmap
The then infant ministry within three (3) years mobilized its strategic key stakeholders, collaborators and other stakeholders to develop and launch the 1996-2010, a very outstanding and comprehensive 15-year long-term National Tourism Strategic Development Blueprint & Roadmap (NTSDB&R) document with technical support from the UNWTO, which document is today is as relevant as it is today to the national tourism cause, as it when it was first launched over two and half decades ago.
Outstanding & Transformative Initiatives
The 1996-2010, 15yr Strategic National Development Blueprint Document, Pan-African Arts and Culture Theatre Festival (PANAFEST), Emancipation Day, National Chocolate Day, Hang-Paragliding Festival, the 2005 EI 1817 Tourism Promotion Incentive Package , the ongoing Marine Drive Project as well as the IDA-World Bank-Ghana Tourism Grant Project are just but few commendable and outstanding bold tourism sector and industry initiatives which seek to realign and reposition the infant national tourism industry for accelerated and rapid growth and industry.
Provide Seed money for Tourism Fund-Stakeholders
GOVERNMENT has being called upon to as a matter of urgency take proactive steps to provide the mandatory seed capital money for and into the Tourism Development Fund (TDF) , as mandated by Section Twenty-three (a) (23-a) of the Tourism Act 2011, Act 817, as well as trigger the processes and procedures to formally operationalize the TDF, to promote accelerated , rapid and inclusive development , growth and evolution of the competitive and attractive tourism national tourism industry.
Tourism has great prospects and potential to strengthen, diversify, expand, modernize as well as make the Ghanaian economy very competitive and attractive, when prioritized and harnessed.
World Tourism Day
The above recommendations came to the fore at a stakeholder’s engagement forum organized by Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Tema Regional Office, on Tuesday, to celebrate the 40th anniversary and 2021 World Tourism Day at Sakumono, near Tema.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) , the UN specialist agency, based in Madrid, Spain, which has mandate ,champions and promotes sustainable and responsible tourism development in the world, in 1979 instituted September 27th as World Tourism Day (WTD).
WTD celebrations commenced in 1980 and celebrated worldwide by member countries, with a number of activities by member countries, under the auspices of the UNWTO, on a theme by the UNWTO.
The significance of WTD is to draw attention to as well as educate all and sundry to the significant contributions of tourism to socio-cultural and economic development in the World.
The theme for WTD 2021 was, “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”.
Mr. Charles Kwaku Buabin, Tema Regional Director (RD), Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA/TRO), stressed on the relevance of the theme as well as tourism’s frontline role and contribution to socio-economic development and also appealed to tourism business owners and operators not to lose sight but strictly adhere to all covid-19 protocols in their operations, as well as operate within the ambit of the laws, which regulate the conduct of business in the tourism industry, especially the Tourism Act 2011, Act 817, the Tourism Levy (TL) collection and its onward remittance to the Authority , as spelt out by the law, to support and reposition the industry, especially as the industry recovers and restarts from the devastating disruption from the corona virus (covid-19) pandemic, which was huge set back to the industry.
Tourism Levy Obligation
Paulina Aggrey-Kwakye and Reginald R. Malm Regional Monitoring and Education Officer and Principal Standards and Quality Assurance Officer on the other appealed and urged to industry practitioners, especially facility managers to deal honestly and transparently with the Authority more particularly related to tourism levy collection and its onward remittance to the Authority through designated and accredited banks that include Agricultural Development Bank, GCB Bank and the Universal Merchant Bank.
Other stakeholders pleaded with government to consider offering the tourism sector a flat tax regime as obtained in other sectors, to lessen the tax burden on tourism businesses, who would in the long run impact positively on the sector and Ghana’s current tourism stature as an expensive destination.
The Tourism Act 2011, Act 817 is the national legislation on our statues as the current national tourism legislation. It was enacted and received Presidential Assent on 16th May, 2011.
It created the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), which replaced the erstwhile Ghana Tourist Board, as the foremost frontline implementing agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and also the statutory national tourism regulation.
The Law in section created and provided an eleven (11)-member Governing Board Body for the Authority, whose Chairperson is from the private sector. The Board-membership is made of representative each from the ministries of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), Local Government, Decentralization and Rural Development (MOLGD&RD) and Culture, Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs (MOC& RA). Others are from Ministries of Land and Natural Resources (MOL&NR) , Science , Environment , Science Technology and Innovation (MOEST&I), three (3) persons appointed from the tour mmmism private sector with the requisite professional qualifications, taking gender balance into consideration as well as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority.
Tourism Development Fund
Sections Twenty-One (21) to Twenty-Four (24) of the Tourism Act on the other hand created and established the Tourism Development Fund/ Levy (TDF/L), whose objective is to provide funding for tourism and tourism –related projects and programmes as clearly stated in section twenty-two (22) of the Law, including marketing and promotion of tourism, capacity building, market research and development of tourism infrastructure, development and promotion of other entrepreneurial activities, tourism export trade-oriented activities of institutions, tourism education and training among others.
The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) formally commenced the collection of TDL in October 2012.
The Writer is Tourism, Brands, Branding, Communication & Marketing Practitioner, Analyst, Advocate & Activist.