TOURISM is a very broad socio-economic industry which is founded on society’s natural, man-made heritage and cultural resources.
It has evolved over the years to become an international unique, strategic and competitive, outstanding and indispensable international cash-cow. It is ranked as the world’s foremost fastest, biggest and most remarkably growing industry since the turn of the millennium.
It is a modern robust, dynamic, strategic, multi-sectoral, multi-million and multi-purpose international industry, which has had a very significant and huge positive impact on the international gross domestic product (IDGDP), the global economy; and in some instances, it is the number-one contributor to the gross domestic product for a number of countries and economies across developed and developing countries.
Dr. Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is a UN specialist agency that is responsible for the international tourism industry. UNWTO is headquartered in Madrid, Spain, and especially prioritizes, supports and guides member-countries and destinations with cutting-edge and scientifically well researched policies, rules, regulations, guidelines and conventions whose ultimate object and aim is sustainable, responsible and harmless international tourism industry development, and its progressive evolution.
Best Industry practice
The UNWTO has best industry practices, conventions, guidelines, rules and regulations and blueprints to facilitate and guide sustainable and responsible tourism development.
Researches and studies by the UNWTO and sister stakeholder organizations including the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) have concluded and predicted that tourism will continue to hold sway on and dominate the global economy for many centuries and generations to come – so long as industry practitioners, destinations, facilities , destination management organizations (DMOs) and others stakeholders strictly comply with UNWTO best industry practice rules, regulations, guidelines, conventions and protocols in the conduct of their businesses.
The industry is a very pragmatic and robust multi-sectoral activity that supports and stimulates growth and development in other analogue industries: such as roads, aviation and rail transport and transportation infrastructure, banking and finance, textiles, fashion, clothing, designing, arts and artifacts, telecom and telecommunication, food and beverages, energy, health, security, cottage industries, education among others. Tourism is also a very proactive pro-poor, gender-sensitive, inclusive, holistic and empowerment-conscious industry that stimulates poverty alleviation, job creation and inclusive empowerment to skilled and unskilled labour among others.
Ghana our homeland, per UNWTO resource criteria classification, has unique, outstanding and rare tourism potential in all the four main natural, man-made, heritage and cultural resource classifications, across the length and breadth of the country – which if prioritized and holistically harnessed would support inclusivivity and accelerate national socio-economic development, growth and transformation.
Ghana has an added tourism edge and other soft, unique, strategic and remarkable tourism selling points (RUSPs) of political stability, safety and security, undocumented tourism treasures: heritage and historic/slavery, colonisation, missionary landmarks, wildlife/conservation, clean beaches, world-rated warm hospitality among others as unharnessed national intangible soft tourism assets.
Unharnessed and unexplored heritage and historic tourism remarkable and strategic unique selling points (RSUSP) are proven by statistics, data and visitor traffic during the 2019, 400th Slavery Anniversary dubbed the Year of Return (YOR) – especially from the African Diasporan visitors.
Tourism is a remarkably inclusive pro-poor, multi-purpose, multi-million-dollar, peerless, strategic and indispensable modern industry. Moreover, it is also a crucially labour intensive industry that supports and aids’ poverty alleviation with multiple job opportunities for both skilled and unskilled labour, as well as discouraging rural-urban migration.
It further promotes national unity, cohesion and peaceful cohabitation. Tourism is additionally an important and strategic industry that promotes and supports balance of trade and exports, as well as brings foreign exchange into the economy. It is pro-conservation conscious and supports environmental protection, conservation; and is also an antidote to threats from global warming and climate change. It is a peerless industry that promotes inclusive and balanced national development, since each and every nook and cranny of the country has one unique tourism asset or another across both urban and rural areas.
It is therefore an important need for Ghana our homeland to prioritize and holistically harness national tourism potential to generate the rare and scarce foreign exchange and revenue for rapid and accelerated overall national socio-economic growth and development.
Dr. Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed Awal – a 59-year old decorated communications and marketing practitioner, businessman and a shrewd consultant – assumed duty as the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) on March 5th 2021 as the substantive, after President Nana Akufo-Addo nominated the immediate past Minister of Business Development (MOBD) in his first term for the post – having gone through vetting and approval by the Appointment Committee of Parliament (ACP), where he excelled with the demonstration of his deep knowledge and understanding of the needs and challenges in the sector during his vetting.
The minister during his vetting at ACP pledged and declared his determination to elevate the industry from its current position as the fourth-largest contributor to national gross domestic product (GDP), to number-one with a revenue output of six billion Ghana cedis (GH¢6bn) annually by 2023.
The Man Dr. Awal
Dr. Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed Awal is the current Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Before this appointment he was the Minister for Business Development. He was adjudged the Most Business Oriented Minister of Africa, Designing Economic Development through Innovative Solutions. He was also named the Best Performing Minister and the Most Outstanding Minister in Ghana for 2018 and 2019 respectively. Dr. Awal was Ghana’s Marketing Man of the year ‘2009’.
Among other laurels, he has been accredited with developing an entrepreneurship policy for Ghana. During his tenure as Business Development Minister, he served as a Special Envoy of the President of the Republic to a number of countries such as Hungary, Morocco, Italy, Central African Republic, Kenya, and Guinea Bissau on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). He also led business delegations to a number of countries including the United States of America, India, Turkey, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, United Kingdom, Qatar and Portugal.
Dr. Awal is the former Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited, Ghana’s biggest media organization. He was also the Managing Director of Chase Petroleum. He is a celebrated entrepreneur and the founder and owner of a number of companies including Marble Communications Group Limited, publishers of The Finder Group of Newspapers; HMW printers, Marble Consultants and Marble Developers. He holds a Doctorate degree in Business Administration with specialty in succession planning and business competitiveness from the Swiss Business School and three Master’s degrees in various disciplines from different universities.
He has Masters in Applied Business Research, Swiss Business School, Switzerland; Executive Masters in Business Administration, University of Ghana Business School; and Masters in International Journalism, University of Wales, UK. He has also attended courses in Business Strategy at Harvard Business School, USA; and oil production and management at Oxford, UK. As a graduate of three reputable Business Schools – University of Ghana Business School, Harvard Business School and Swiss Business School, he is committed to improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ghana.
He has worked as a consultant for a number of organizations where he offered consultancy services in the areas of business strategy, management, marketing and communications. He has also consulted for diplomatic missions, development partners as well as the private sector and public ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
MOTAC – Mainstreams Tourism & its subsectors into National Socio-Economic Development
The Ministry of Tourism, Acts and Culture (MOTAC) is a statutory national technical ministry under the Office of the Civil Service (OCS), whose mandate is to oversee the formulation and implementation of national tourism policies and related issues, including promotion, regulation and control of the sector.
MOTAC is mandated to provide a strong, stable policy environment to effectively mainstream tourism and its subsidiaries, including Ghanaian culture and heritage, to drive the national overall national socio-economic development aspirations and vision.
The ministry therefore effectively champions and ensures the mainstreaming of tourism and its subsectors of culture, creative arts, hospitality and catering, clothing and textiles and the performing arts seamlessly into the overall national socio-economic development agenda.
It was created by an Executive Instrument 1993 (EI93) and formally established as the Ministry of Tourism (MOT). It underwent realignments and rebranding over the years and designated variously: including tourism and modernization of the capital city (MOT&MOC), tourism and diasporans relations (MOTDR), tourism, creative arts and culture (MOTCAC) to its present designation as tourism, arts and culture (MOTAC) since 2017 by executive instrument 2017 (EI 17) and still counting.
Mr. John Yao Agbeko, Chief Director, Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture
MOTAC executes its mandate through a number of departments and agencies (DAs) as its frontline and statutory implementing agencies and other sister ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs); and bilateral and multilateral development partners and agencies including the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Bank and the UNDP.
MOTAC as currently constituted has eleven (11) body corporates as its statutory, main frontline and key implementing agencies. They include the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), National Commission on Culture (NCC), the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMBB), the Ghana Tourist Development Company Limited (GTDC) and the National Theatre of Ghana.
The rest are the Osagyefuo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park (KNMMP), Dr. W.E.B Dubois Memorial Centre and Dr. George Padmore Memorial Research Library on Pan-Africanism.
Others include the Ghana Folklore Board, Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA) and the Hotel, Catering and Hospitality Training Institute (HOTCATT) as well as the Bureau of Ghana Languages.
Statistics source Research, Monitoring & Evaluation Directorate, GTA
An efficient and effective private sector is an indispensable and an essential element in the tourism value chain, where it is said that the public sector creates the enabling and conducive business ecosystem environment with attractive laws, regulatory, tax and other soft business-friendly and attractive environment for the private sector to lead in the tourism development drive.
The Tourism Act, 2011, Act 817 – the country’s current national tourism legislation and legal regime (NTL& LR) – in section Forty-Two (42) vividly captures the importance of the tourism private sector and appropriately provided thus: “There shall be a Public-Private Partnership Forum (PPPF) to encourage public-private partnerships, to promote tourism development opportunities. The Forum shall be organized by the ministry in collaboration with the GTA and the private sector.”
The tourism sector has an effective private sector that is organized under the banner of Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF). GHATOF is the trade association of all tourism trade associations in the country.
Mrs. Bella Ahu, a seasoned tourism practitioner, is the current president of GHATOF.
The ministry has and enjoys an effective and a very cordial harmonious working relationship with the private sector through GHATOF. The private sector also occupies the strategic key board chair position on the GTA governing board, as provided for by section four of the Tourism Act 2011, Act 817.
The ministry moreover has another warm relationship with the Musicians Union of Ghana, (MUSIGA), another vibrant private sector trade association.
The young National Film Authority (NFA) is another important body corporate that goes a very long way to add colour and weight to the country’s tourism ecosystem.
Creative Arts Agency
The newly legislated Creative Arts Agency Act and the newly created Creative Arts Agency are also expected to take the public-private partnership to higher heights when the agency is given effect to, effectively bring the creative arts sector to the frontline as an integral aspect of national tourism.
MOTAC through GTA, its main frontline implementing agency, collaborates with its stakeholders consisting of public, private and international agencies such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the African Union (AU), the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa, Conservation International, the UN Environmental Programme, local and international educational institutions, the Sustainable Tourism Eliminating Poverty Foundation (STEPS), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) among others.
Also, the law empowers and mandates the Authority to investigate and take measures to eliminate illegal, dishonourable, unsound and improper activities in relation to any activity regulated under this law.
The law also tasks the authority to oversee administration of the Tourism Development Fund as well as ensure that the Fund is used for the required purposes – including funding for tourism and tourism-related projects and programmes, marketing and promotion of tourism, capacity building, market research, tourism infrastructure, development and promotion of other entrepreneurial activities, tourism export trade-oriented activities and institutions, tourism education and training among others.
Laws are very essential in the development and evolution of all professions and vocations – including tourism – the world over.
Act 817 & District Tourism Offices
The Tourism Act 2011, Act 817 – which is the most current national tourism legislation and tourism legal regime (NTL& TLR) on our statues – in Section Sixteen (16) provided for and created Ghana Tourism Authority District Offices (GTADOs) across the country.
The country currently does not boast any outstanding and commendable national tourism legislation.
Act 817 is best suitable as the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Tourism Development Levy/Fund Act.
The country’s tourism sector legislation is fraught with obsolete, fragmented and outmoded pieces of legislative enactments.
Notable among these fragmented tourism-related pieces of legislations are: The Creative Arts Agency Act 2020, the Film Classification Act 2016, Ghana Tourism Authority/Tourism Act 2011, Act 817, National Commission on Culture Law 1990, PNDCL 238, National Museum Act, 1969 (N.L.C.D. 387), the Chieftaincy Act 2008, Act 759 among others.
Tourism as the fastest, biggest growing global industry in vogue since the turn of the millennium has marked the sector out as competitive international cash-cow. Having outstanding tourism resources and potential does not automatically translate and transform a facility and/or a destination into an attractive and prominence as a high tourism-attracting destination and a hub; it takes innovative and creative man-made robust policies and activation to transform destinations into remarkable hubs. There is therefore an urgent need to initiate and take pragmatic progressive policies and steps to transform and turn Ghana, our homeland, into a prominent and attractive international tourism hub.
Secondly, tourism is such a unique, strategic and inclusive pro-poor industry that it must be prioritized and placed on the front-burner and harnessed holistically as a sacred national asset.
Proactive steps that must be taken to transform the national tourism potential include enactment of a very robust and proactive national tourism legislation and legal regime (NTL&LR) – to reposition and promote holistic and rapid transformation of the country’s remarkable and competitive tourism potential into increased visitors and receipts.
The NTL& LR first and foremost must create an outstandingly attractive, compelling and competitive national tourism identity (O&ACCNTI) for the homeland. Secondly, the enactment must also create well -dentified and branded alternative attractive mini-tourism regions, districts, circuits, zones and enclave brands within the national brand, to promote an all year round industry as an international model destination, evolution and promotion study case.
Other thematic areas that the NTL& LR must tackle include comprehensive decentralized national tourism policy and regime (DNTPR) that is automated and digitized to address issues of congestion and overcrowding at facilities and destinations; which would above all generate reliable and authentic data and statistics for evaluation and policy initiation.
Using a very robust and shrewder decentralized and strategic national tourism development policy regime – using Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) as main and key frontline strategic executing agents – would result in a balanced and holistic national tourism industry that repositions the country as an outstanding global destination model with an all-year-round industry – with multiple alternative choices to satisfy needs of the ever-growing sophisticated new generation and modern unpredictable tourist; while a very comprehensive decentralized policy regime would also address challenges of congestion and overcrowding at all destinations.
There is an urgent need to frame and fashion-out a broad national three-way strategic and well-defined national tourism development strategic framework approach on Coastal, Middle and Northern Zones or Divisions, and holistically pursued to promote a well-balanced national tourism development and remarkable national and international industry and strategic model regime.
Need to amend Tourism Act 2011
The Tourism Act 2011, Act 817, the most current national tourism legislation and legal regime (L&LR) on our books does not merit labelling as national tourism legislation (NTL), it is best suited as the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Tourism Development Levy/Fund (TDL/F). There is a need to take urgent steps to amend the law and enact an appropriate and progressive NTL& LR for the country.
The new NTL&LR must take proactive steps to merge fragmented and duplicative sister tourism frontline implementing agencies, especially the GTA, GMBB and NCC into a bigger Ghana Tourism Regulatory Commission (GHATOURC).
The new national tourism enactment must also prioritize and promote a comprehensive decentralized inclusive and holistic national tourism development policy regime.
A very vibrant indigenous tourism industry is an essential and indispensable cornerstone of a very sustainable and vibrant tourism industry development and evolution. Ghana’s inability to evolve a very robust, strong and vibrant domestic tourism is the bane of our national tourism development.
The indigenous tourism best industry practice principle is reinforced by 1:10 Convention, UNWTO’s foremost evergreen best industry practice convention that says for every one international touristic visitation there must be ten (10), corresponding domestic visitations to the destination and/or facility concerned.
Absence of a very vibrant indigenous tourism industry has therefore been Ghana’s tourism development’s Achilles heel over the years.
Also, data available indicate that most of the country’s rare and undocumented tourism resources are located in the hinterlands and rural areas; hence, there is a need to realign and rebrand the current sector Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) as the Ministry of Tourism and Rural Development (MoTOURD) to re-energise and accelerate the national tourism development’s drive and aspiration, since a lot of tourism resources are found in the rural areas but remain undocumented and undeveloped.
Also, the ministry’s implementing agencies must also be restructured with equal units and/or directorates for the four main resource classification of natural, man-made, heritage and cultural, to promote holistic product development and industry.
There is also need to draw-up and launch a sustained multi-media information and communications Technology (ICT)-led domestic, national and international tourism promotional awareness campaign roadmap.
We lack a professional and clearly defined marketing strategy (promotion) that is an appropriately and professionally, well and clearly-defined professionally market segmented and product that’s properly packaged (branded). In essence lack of a well and precisely-defined national tourism brand, branding, brands and target marketing/promotional strategy is a huge obstacle that impairs Ghana’s tourism development and progress.
Among the four main and broad tourism features of natural, man-made, cultural and heritage resources, culture stands out as tourism’s number-one foremost strategic and unique selling point (USP) in the world.
Harmonize legal regime
Laws are very critical and important elements in the success of institutions and professions and/or vocations the world over.
They set the parameters for the conduct and practice of industries andor professions and professionals concerned.
Ghana’s current chaotic tourism industry legal framework is not very healthy to drive and champion the overall national tourism development ambition.
Since laws are not permanent and therefore subject to reviews and amendments, we need to take proactive steps to review and amend all tourism-related pieces of enactment; address all noted flaws and grey areas in them; and also unify and synchronize it into a simplified single document that sets the industry parameters for the industry – this would also enhance and promote ease of doing business in the country, which must stand test of time and be in tune with industry trends and societal dynamics.
Source: Ghana Tourism Authority
Conservation Tourism – Another neglected but strategic & important cash-cow
Climate change is both real and a very huge national and international threat to humanity and society as a whole: passionate international conservation institutions, organizations, activists, international, national and domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, civil society organizations (CSOs) and other like-minded stakeholders, campaigns and campaigners are very passionate with proactive appeals for pragmatic governmental and stakeholder initiatives and strategies to address the threats of climate change, without delay, across the world.
Wetlands (Ramsar-site) and national parks are rare and unique tourism attractions which have attracted people of diverse backgrounds over the years.
Conservation tourism is especially very popular with environmentalists, conservationists, climate change activists and other environmental experts as a priceless and subtle proactive sure-strategy for addressing threats posed by global climate change.
The country abounds in numerous wetlands, wildlife, forest and national parks or protected areas, which all have some rare and endangered flora and fauna, butterfly species and medicinal plants among others.
Notable among these designated and protected areas are the Beyin-Nzulenzo Conservation Area, Sakumono Ramsar Site, Keta Basin and Wetlands, Tafi-Atome, Shai Hills, Mole National Park, Tafi-Atome Monkey Sanctuary, Ankansa, Kakum National Park, Xavi Bird Sanctuary, the Bunsu Arboretum, Aburi Botanical Gardens and Bui Conservation Areas.
Wetlands, forest reserves and national parks are natural habitats for rare migratory bird species, and medicinal plants that contribute immensely to environmental protection, conservation, preservation of rivers and other natural water-bodies and other subjects of scientific research.
The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), then Ghana Tourist Board (GTB), during 2002-2003 collaborated its technical support and assistance from some strategic donor partners that included SNV – a Netherlands Development Non-Governmental (NGO); the United States of America International Aid Agency (USAID); and other stakeholders including selected Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and traditional authorities who selected and implemented fourteen (14) diverse natural heritage attractions for a conservation pilot project known as Community-Based Eco-Tourism Projects (E-ecotourism).
The Evergreen Wli Waterfalls at Wli, near Hohoe
The fourteen CBEPs were the Amedzofe, Tagbo Waterfalls; Tafi-Atome Monkey Sanctuary; Xavi Bird Watching Sanctuary; Wassa Domama Rock Shrine; Bunsu Arboretum; Bobiri Forest and Butterfly Sanctuary; Tano Sacred Grove; Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary; Wehiau Hippo Sanctuary; Paga Crocodile Ponds and Widnaba.
Others included the Tongo Hills, Tengzug Shrines and the Sirigu Pottery and Art establishment.
The erstwhile Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) – predecessor to the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) – in 2002/2003 selected some unique attractions across the country as pilot CBEPs.
The projects received high commendation and impressive patronage. Patrons fulfilled cultural exchanges and immensely contributed to environmental conservation as well as addressed climate change challenges; it was a very huge success.
The project was abandoned and discontinued as a result of the government of Ghana’s (GOGs) inability to produce funds and counterpart funding to support it.
Threats from climate change and related issues of global warming, threats to biodiversity, environmental conservation and protection are real: there is urgent need to spend part of the forty-million dollar (US$40m) Tourism Grant to revive and restore the laudable Community-Based Eco-Tourism Projects without further delay – to also diversify Ghana’s tourism offerings in order to attract tourists of varying backgrounds and interests, and as well to reap associated socio-economic benefits of conservation, alternative jobs , poverty alleviation and others.
There is an urgent need to revive, review, restore and expand the novel Eco-Tourism Community-Based Project (ETCBP); probably re-engineering and recalibrating, transforming and expanding the concept into an expanded all- new project as an indigenous facility-community owned attractions (IFCOA).
National Tourism Prize
Creative and innovative activations are unique tourism-selling intangible soft skills that make destinations, facilities and tourism as a whole unique, irresistible, and attractive.
The late Ex-President Rawlings gave us Emancipation Day, Pan-African Historical Theatre and Arts Festival (PANAFEST), cultural and heritage tourism foundations and maintenance of cordial relationship and links with the African-American Diaspora, as well as repositioned Ghana, Our Homeland, as an unconditionally warm home for the diaspora – and above all made strenuous efforts to right the wrongs of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and support reconciliation.
Mr. Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, on the other hand, sustained and maintained the Homeland/Pan-Africanist momentum and moved the extra step to gift us the National Hang-Paragliding Festival as well as the National Chocolate Day – both outstanding national tourism special events – to promote, market and patronize cocoa (our national pride) and cocoa-related products. The vintage and dynamic Mr. Ferdinand Ayim was the workaholic, trusted and reliable aide to Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey who saw to the execution and actualization of Jake’s national tourism aspirations – eventually falling on line of duty. It is therefore very justifiable and legitimate that we institute the J.J. Rawlings-Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey National Tourism Prize (F. Ayim category) project to immortalize the memory of the three distinguished, outstanding and fallen national giants. Mind you, political, funeral and religious tourism is popular; and our outstanding indigenous (domestic) unique tourism selling points (USPs)are currently in vogue countrywide.
It is therefore high time we transform the national tourism awards into a J.J. Rawlings-Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey Memorial National Tourism Prize – with a prize category called the Ferdinand Ayim National Tourism. Discovery could be reserved for young and upcoming tourism and hospitality students in tertiary institutions, which calls for national entries and a jury/panel constituted to select winners, which also promotes transparency.
Flashback from right: Dr. Joe Sonne, a retired former Acting Chief Director of MOTAC, looks on while Mrs. Esther Obetsebi Lamptey, wife of Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey – late Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations, receives a posthumous award in his honour at the 2018 National Tourism Awards.
Analysis of Ghana’s Tourism Growth Trajectory…
1993 to Date & Way Forward
Ghana’s tourism has recorded and seen improved growth in facilities, visitor numbers and revenue numbers over the years, in tandem with the global industry trends.
The industry has also grown consistently year on year and consolidated, ranking consistently as the fourth foremost contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the years.
Cape Coast Castle, UNESCO Designated World Heritage Site, is a cash-cow attraction asset
Many industry analysts and researchers opined strongly that Ghana’s industry growth is neglected and far below its actual capacity as a result of negligence. Non-application, adherence and compliance with UNWTO best industry practices and protocols, especially promoting a vibrant domestic tourism industry; poor public funding/budgetary allocation, resourcing and investment in the sector are major obstacles which have militated against and impeded the country’s tourism growth and evolution over the years.
The neglect in public funding for the sector has over the years affected product development, branding, marketing and promotion – hence the sector’s unimpressive and stunted growth and performance over the past years.
Ghana’s tourism trajectory has traversed various rough roads, including playing second-fiddle as footnote to other strategic and important analogues sectors such trade and industry, culture, education, information among others in years past.
The year 1993 however marked a turnaround in the country’s tourism narrative and development trajectory, when the sector gained promotion with its own full-fledged and autonomous Ministry of Tourism (MOT).
A lot of water has passed under the bridge in the tourism trajectory from 1993 to date, including the 1996-2010 historic 15-year first-ever long-term National Tourism Development Policy Document and Strategy (NTDPDS).
The pragmatic Document has however remained a white-elephant to date, as the result of lack of public funding; and a fragmented, duplicative and obsolete national tourism legislation and legal regime (NTLLR).
The industry has several unexecuted and abandoned policies and projects as a result of underfunding over the years.
The sector is therefore very synonymous with abandoned and piece-meal projects, leading to sector under-growth and an unimpressive and below average contribution to national gross domestic product in the years gone by.
One other challenge that has retarded Ghana’s tourism growth over the years is lack or absence of an attractive national tourism brand identification – which is very essential for market share in an industry as competitive as tourism, as well as destination development and evolution.
International World Tourism Day Durbar
Ghana, as a respected UNWTO member of good standing, plays strategic and frontline roles in UNWTO activities, including Chair and Host of the African Region Centre of Excellence in UNWTO-Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty (UNWTO-STEP).
The UNWTO in 2007, at its General Assembly in Cartagena, Mexico, elected Ghana as host of the 2009 United World Tourism Organization World Day (WTD), which is celebrated annually on September 27th and is the most important date on the international tourism calendar, to emphasize and reemphasize the importance and contribution of tourism to socio-economic development.
The historic 2009 UNWTO Day, Ghana 2009, was themed ‘Tourism – Celebrating Diversity’, whereupon the country opened its doors and showcased its tourism offerings to the world. Ghana WTD 2009 was the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.
Minister’s commendable pedigree & motivational declaration
There is a new wind of motivation, courage, renewed hope and assurance on the national tourism horizon – especially from the public tourism sector, the key and frontline proponent of national tourism development.
It is very motivating and reassuring that no less a person than the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Dr. Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, hit the nail right on the head with the declaration of his determination as the sector minister to ensure that tourism moves from its current position as fourth largest contributor to national gross domestic product (NGDP) to become the foremost and number-one contributor to NGDP, during his vetting at the Appointment Committee of Parliament.
Our motherland has enormous tourism resources and potential in addition to our envious political stability, safety and security, which need re-engineering, innovative and creative activation exploration to transform and elevate Our Homeland into our desired aspiration as an attractive and prominent international model destination and hub.
There is a pressing need for us as a country to initiate and enact a proactive and pragmatic national tourism legislation and legal regime (NTL&LR), which must promote strict adherence and compliance with all UNWTO best industry practices, conventions, protocols and best industry guidelines, rules and regulations; and above all, there is need for consistency in our national tourism development strategy (NTDS); and a need to professionalise national tourism development, insulating it from partisan politics.
Since society is very dynamic, so are all professions and vocations – which have become more sophisticated and robust as a result of the impact and effect of modern inventions, information and communications technology (ICT), including the power of both traditional and social media. From 1993 to date, when we had autonomy for tourism with the creation of the Ministry of Tourism (MOT), we have created and generated enough data and statistics to guide us into undertaking comprehensive evaluation and reevaluation to help us to overhaul, review and amend the TDS holistically – in tune with the dynamics of society and international tourism industry trends, so as to reposition and transform Ghana, Our Motherland, into an attractive, modern, internationally competitive and model destination, and a prominent tourism hub.
Tourism development is neither rocket-science nor astrological science; rather, it shows that very little and invaluable creative ideas and innovative activations are key essential and strategic ingredients which make tourism attractive -adding colour to dramatically transform the features of hitherto unknown destinations into prominent cash-cow destinations and traffic concentration hubs. We have enormous tourism resources and potential added to political stability, safety and security. When prioritized, creatively innovated and activated, these have the capability to elevate Our Homeland into our desired aspiration as an international and attractive model destination.
Tourism Regions, Districts, Circuits, Enclaves & or Zone Destinations …
Focus on Sekyere-Kumawu Assembly
Kumawu uses Tourism to accelerate its Development & Transformation
Mr. Samuel Addai Agyekum, DCE, Kumawu Sekyere
THE Sekyere Kumawu District Assembly (SKDA) is another outstanding tourism conscious and development proactive assembly which has resolved to use its tourism potential, to promote the area’s accelerated growth and development.
A statement from SKDA to the Business and Financial Times’ Tourism Desk from Kumawu, the District Capital (DC), has reiterated and reaffirmed the assembly’s determination to holistically harness its tourism potential so as to become an attractive national tourism destination, as well as a prominent international tourism hub.
The statement was signed by Mr. Samuel Addai Agyekum, District Chief Executive (DCE) SKDA, and affirmed: “SKDA’s vision is to become Ghana’s foremost, number-one irresistible and attractive national tourism destination, and an international model destination case study for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and other analogue bilateral and multilateral development agencies”.
The Assembly’s very pragmatic and visionary DCE said: “SKDA has drawn-up and is executing an ambitious district-wide Kumawu Waterfalls Resort Project for the area”.
Mr. Addai Agyekum named the Kumawu Waterfalls, which is located at Kumawu-Temante; Bomfobiri Waterfalls, found within the Kumawu Forest Reserve; as well as the Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary, as the area’s three most important prized natural assets which are the lead and key focal assets in the assembly’s tourism development adventure – on which foundation the area has committed to build its overall rapid and accelerated socio-economic development.
The industrious DCE ended by saying, “Environmental Protection and Conservation/ Eco-Tourism are at the forefront of and the main key elements in the assembly’s tourism development project’s vision and aspirations”.
The Assembly, the DCE disclosed, has accordingly “drawn up an ambitious and attractive multi-purpose and multi-million Barima Sarfo Tweneboa Kodua Sports Bar and Park receptive facility, containing a children’s playground and others, for the Kumawu Waterfalls”.
Other aspects of the development plan for the Kumawu Waterfalls include the Waterfalls Enhancement, Canopy walkways, Zip-Lines, Forest Hiking Paths and Bird Watching among others.
The DCE announced that several investment opportunities in accommodation, catering, art and artifacts, cottage industries, among others abound in the area; and accordingly invites investors, home and abroad, to direct their investments to the area for maximum returns.
The Sekyere Kumawu District Assembly (SKDA) was established in 2012 by Legislative Instrument (LI) 2171. Kumawu serves as the district capital (DC) of the young assembly.
Mr. Samuel Addai Agyekum is the District Chief Executive for SKDA.
It is located between Latitudes 0° 20 and 1° 20 North and Longitudes 0° 45 and 1° 15 West. It has an estimated land area of 1,500.6 square kilometres, which is 6.2% of the total land area of Ashanti Region. Kumawu, the capital, is about 54 kilometres north-east of Kumasi, the capital of Ashanti Region.
The district shares boundaries with Sekyere Central district to the West, Sekyere East district to the North, Asante Akim North district to the South-West and the Sekyere Afram Plains district to the South
SKD Assembly’s vision is to be the number-one tourist destination and a pillar of Agriculture production in Ghana and beyond.
Picture above the charming Kumawu Waterfalls from different angles
Pix: Prototype of proposed multi-purpose multi-million Barima Sarfo Tweneboa Kodua Sports Bar & Park at Kumawu Waterfalls
The Writer is Tourism & Brands Analyst, Advocate & Activist,
Email: [email protected]