Rethink approach to tourism and hospitality – Ethel Cofie


…says pandemic should ensure adoption of innovative digital solutions to drive recovery

Considering the harsh effects COVID-19 has had on the tourism sector globally and locally, there is the need for stakeholders to adopt digital solutions in the designing and marketing of tourism experiences to ensure recovery and future sustainability, Ethel Cofie, CEO of Edel Technologies has said.

She argued that being one of the sectors most prone to suffer from failing to adapt to the new normal, players in the space must be bold and innovative in applying digital tools such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) saying that they can give tourists similar experiences virtually, without necessarily touring sites physically.

Citing a white paper published by her outfit on how technology can enable emerging markets increase tourism revenues, Ms. Cofie opined that digitalisation is a sure means of roping in persons in the diaspora, especially after the resounding success of the Ghana Beyond Aid campaign.

“We should be able to do a virtual, AI tour of our heritage sites and ask patrons to pay, say, US$5 or £5, especially if they are in the diaspora. People can have the experience of going through castles, slave route tours, through virtual animation and AI, without physically being there. This approach can be applied to our museums as well.

We really need to rethink our approach to tourism and creative industry, to look at digital possibilities, even as we are trying to attract people physically. It is perhaps, more relevant today. Part of it is the marketing. How are you using digital tools to do your marketing? How are you also designing the tourism experiences to be digital? Such that it is not just coming physically to a place but can we have a virtual tour of the place?”

She made these remarks in an interview with the B&FT ahead of the latest edition of the Ghana’s Most Respected CEOs (GMRCEOs) breakfast series slated for Wednesday, April 28, 2021.

The Ghana’s Most Respected CEOs, a quarterly breakfast series organised by Business and Financial Times, brings together seasoned business leaders to deliberate on topical issues across different sectors.

Following a wide scale drop in tourism-generated revenue in 2020 due to the pandemic, conservative estimates by the World Tourism Organisation (UN-WTO) indicates that tourism-generated revenue dropped by more than 60 percent last year. As a result, alternative approaches such as virtual tourism, have begun to gain traction.

Ms. Cofie also stressed the need for businesses to adopt tech strategies and business continuity strategies to sustain their businesses, even in crisis periods such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“It will always be that the ones that have technology strategy and a technology roadmap are more adaptable than ones who do not have. So, the first thing to do is to put together a technology strategy over the next three to five years.”

Themed: ‘Business Adaptability and Sustainability in 2021: The role and impact of Finance and Technology,’ this edition will feature speakers such as Ethel Cofie who is also the founder of Women in Technology; Nana Dwemoh Benneh, CEO of UMB; Dominic Adu, CEO of FNB Ghana; and Daniel Kwadwo Owusu, Country Manager for Deloitte Ghana. Others are Leticia Browne, CEO of Intelligent Capital Group; and Daniel Addo, CEO of CBG.

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