Eunice Ogbugo, President of Women in Business and Tourism, Ghana (WIBAT), has underscored the need for women to actively promote tourism through their various businesses.
She said developing and transition economies can benefit from creating alliances that encourage the integration of business and tourism to provide enhanced services for the international world.
Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, responsible for more than one in ten jobs globally. In many developing and transition economies, tourism has emerged as the dominant tool for economic growth.
Ghana recently unveiled a 15-year long tourism plan that seeks to increase the annual number of tourists to Ghana from one-million to eight million per year by 2027; and the travel industry is projected to raise US$8.3 billion a year by 2027 plus associated benefits, according to the plan.
Speaking at the Women in Business and Tourism Thanksgiving Prayer Meeting in Accra, she said the business of tourism is not limited to only tourist sites and culture, but that with creativity and innovation tourism can be broadened in various ways.
She stated that most sectors- such as agriculture, medicine industry, food, clothing, jewellery, mining, and forestry- have a kink to tourism. Since it can be said to be multi-sectorial or cut across all industries, it is time that we made the country’s tourism its number one revenue and foreign exchange earner.
“We have seen countries where sports, medicine and fashion have been marketed into tourism. For example, in the US they have the New York Fashion Week. Several countries are well-known for these specific tourism initiatives. We need to build the same to boost our tourism sector, too” she said.
‘For now, we are just focusing on our natural tourism sites, culture and our food; but there is more we can add to it, so we at WIBAT are saying we the businesswomen creating that change and owning those businesses which can promote tourism as well. We want to generate more revenue, help pay taxes to contribute our quota to the country,” she added.
Madam Eunice further noted that through bilateral trade exchanges, mentoring, capacity building programmes, networking through investment seminars, fairs and conferences, they can also create that linkage and encourage all women in business to look beyond just small-scale and think of growing their businesses to make an impact while promoting tourism.
Women in Business and Tourism (WIBAT) is a group of women entrepreneurs promoting enterprise development and partnerships of other business sectors with tourism within Ghana and across Africa to create employment, increase turnovers to contribute their quota in terms of taxes and advocacy to improve the lives of our women, children and the entire people.
“In the next two years, we will have opened chapters across Africa. We want to network among ourselves, do business among ourselves and support each other; so, in the next two years we will have opened chapters across Africa- that is southern, eastern, western and central. So we will have WIBAT Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra Leone and we already have South Africa,” she said about the group’s future.
Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee, Executive Director of Salt and light ministry who is also a patron of WIBAT, called on young women to be honest, hardworking, industrious and courageous; and be passionate about doing something, because, “when you are passionate, you don’t look at obstacles as hindrances, you look at obstacles as stepping stones.”
She also encouraged the women to respect one another and remember it is linkages and synergies that will enable them to grow, connect and not be lone rangers.