TOURISM as a modern, broad, multi-purpose and multimillion socio-economic industry is founded on natural, man-made, cultural and heritage resources.
It i s as a very resilient and dynamic industry, it has demonstrated its capacity and tenacity and stands out as the biggest, fastest and the largest growing industry around the world since the turn of the millennium over two decades ago and contributes as high over twenty-percent to the overall international gross domestic product (GDP) and is thus very much key and an integral part of the world’s economy, whilst at the home front tourism’s contributes and ranks as the fourth (4th) largest contributor to national GDP.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization is a Madrid, Spain based UN specialist agency which champions and promotes responsible and sustainable tourism development around the world.
Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, a former Georgian Minister of State for Economic Development assumes office in January 2018 and serves as the Secretary-General (S-G) of the UNWTO.
Industry Data, Best Industry Practice and Protocols
UNWTO collects and collates industry data as well as commissions and conducts regular researches with expertise and scientific methodologies into and on industry and market trends, which are summarized into industry blueprints, roadmaps, to support member countries and destinations, to ensure responsible and sustainable tourism development and evolution around the world.
Researches and studies by the UNWTO and other giant reputable international multilateral and bilateral institutions including the World Tourism and Travel Council, (WTTC ),the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UNESCO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, (WIPO), the World Environment Programme (WEP) among others has concluded firmly that tourism is a very dynamic, robust and flexible resilient industry , as such its impact on the global economy would be bigger and better so long as practitioners, investors, plants and destinations strictly adhere to UNWTO best industry practices, conventions, guidelines , protocols and regulations, as such Ghana cannot afford to miss-out on the tourism evolution, there is the urgent need for the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to established UNWTO directorate to co-ordinate and deepen Ghana’s relationship with the UN Tourism specialist giant.
Dr. AWAL, Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture
The current Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) Dr. Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed AWAL, assumed office with a very clear and concise target to transform, reposition and ensure tourism become the foremost contributor to GDP by 2024, which target is achievable but call for a lot re-engineering and re-alignment of the current and existing national tourism nomenclature, legal regime and their ecosystems, to reposition the disrupted evergreen infant strategic cash-cow.
It has confirmed and demonstrated its worth as a peerless competitive international cash-cow, which has transformed, repositioned and turn around the socio-economic fortunes of many countries from both developed and developing economies across the world.
Strengthened Relations with UNWTO
Dr. Alhaji AWAL after assumption of office took pragmatic steps and visited the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid, Spain, to confer and consult with Mr. Zurab Pololikashivili and to strengthen our national relations with the astute UN specialist, to reposition Ghana’s infant and promising tourism industry for rapid development and growth
Conventions & regulations
The Madrid, Spain based specialist agency researched into industry trends which were developed into rules , regulations, conventions and protocols as best industry and sound management practice guidelines, rules, regulations and conventions as industry blueprints.
Among the UNWTO best industry best practice protocols is Convention 1:10, which stands out as tourism industry’s prominent and best evergreen convention of all time, which identifies vibrant and robust domestic tourism industry as the indispensable energy and cornerstone which fuels and promotes sustainable and meaning tourism development and evolution, the convention states emphatically that for every one (1) international touristic visitation to a facility and or destination , there must ten (10) corresponding domestic touristic visitations to the destination and or facility in questions,1:10 has remained tourism’s foremost evergreen convention of all time.
UNWTO Conventions, Protocols, Best industry Practice & Benefits
Tourism is an important and critical multi-million, multi-purpose and competitive international socio-economic development catalyst. Diligently , meticulously and holistically harnessing tourism potential with strict adherence and compliance to UNWTO Best industry practice rules, regulations, guidelines, protocols and conventions bring multiple benefits including multiple jobs for both skilled and unskilled labour, rare foreign exchange, aviation, marine, railways and roads transport infrastructure, environment conservation and protection, cultural and heritage renewal, revival and conservation, poverty alleviation, rural-urban migration among other benefits.
Ghana’s Tourism Achilles’ hill
According to UNWTO a very vibrant domestic tourism industry is an essential and indispensable cornerstone of a very sustainable and vibrant tourism industry development and evolution, Ghana’s inability to float and evolve a very robust, strong and vibrant domestic tourism industry is become the bane of our national tourism development woes, restating our inability to fulfil convention 1:10 UNWTO’S foremost evergreen , prominent and popular best industry practice protocol and rule , hence our not too impressive national tourism development over the years.
Rare opportunity to amend national strategy & reposition
It is a proven outstanding resilient industry as the global industry with unwavering support from the United Nations World Tourism Organization ( UNWTO) , members countries , their strategic collaborators and partners make strenuous efforts to restore the industry and its gains, to opportune for Ghana, Our Homeland to also use the rare opportunity to undertake an in-depth and comprehensive re-evaluation ,review and accordingly amend our national tourism development policy and strategy to address some noted teething errors including poor public funding and low budgetary allocation for tourism, obsolete, fragmented and duplicative legal regime, undeveloped and undocumented tourism resources, high national ignorance on socio-economic and cultural benefits associated with tourism development, poor customer care and service delivery, expensive destination tag on destination and brand Ghana, lack and absence of national hospitality and national tourism legislation and policies respectively among others.
With national consensus that current and existing national economy and structure is outlived its usefulness and an urgent need to create and reengineer an all new diversified and expanded national economic order , the MOTAC Minister’s emphatic announcement to ensure tourism become the foremost contributor to GDP, is more than government’s confidence and choice of tourism to as the preferred and chosen industry and sector to shape the desired and the needed new national competitive and diversified economic outlook.
The country has since 1993 initiated and implemented commendable and progressive national tourism development policies and programs which have reposition national tourism development and evolution in pool position for rapid development and accelerated growth.
1993 birth of MOT
Key among outstanding and progressive national tourism development efforts include the 1993 historic creation of the Ministry of Tourism (MOT), whose action formally granted autonomy to tourism and repositioned it as strategic and frontline national socio-economic development and transformation catalyst.
1996-2010 Tourism Development Blueprint
After the creation of MOT was the development and the launch of the 1996-2010, 15-year long-term comprehensive integrated national tourism blueprint roadmap document.
2003-2007 Strategic Action Plan
Following on the 1996-2010 roadmap was the 2003-2007 (4)-year National Tourism Strategic Action Plan, which also stood out as a very bold national effort to implement and give effect to the 1996-2010 tourism roadmap.
Covid-19 devastative disruption
GHANA’s evergreen infant tourism industry and its gains were however, annihilated by the debilitating and devastating corona virus (covid-19) disruption.
Commissions & omissions
A number of noted challenges beset, obstruct and stunt the commendable and progressive national tourism development initiatives. Key among these challenges include poor public funding and low national budgetary allocation to the tourism sector and high national ignorance on the multiple benefits and contribution of tourism to socio-economic development and transformation.
…GTA Hasn’t Helped National Tourism Cause
LEGISLATIONS, legal regimes (L&LRs) and enforcement to promote and ensure compliance to the rules, regulations and ethics are therefore important and crucial to the health and progress of professions, industries and vocations everywhere in the world. Legislation, its enforcement and compliance become more crucial and important when the profession and or vocation involved has global benchmarks outlook, effect dimensions and standards such as tourism, health, trade and others.
Tourism Act 2011
The Tourism Act 2011, Act 817 is a twenty page (20), fifty-one (51)-sectioned Legislative piece is the current applicable and binding legislation and legal regime which sets the parameters for the conduct and promotion of the tourism profession, industry and vocation in the country.
The Law in Section One (1) created and established the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), a body corporate with a dual mandate as the statutory national tourism regulator (NTR) in the country and destination manager (DM) for destination and brand (D&B) Ghana respectively.
Section four (4) of the Law created an eleven (11)-member Governing Body for the Authority, which is chaired by the private sector, consisting of a representative from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC)the Authority’s Chief Executive Officer and three others from the tourism private sector. Others include representatives each from the ministries of finance, (MOF) local government, decentralization and rural development, (MOLGD&RD), lands and natural resources,(MOL&NR), science technology and innovation (MOST&I) and chieftaincy and religious affairs(MOC&RA).
Tourism Development Fund
Sections twenty-one to twenty-four (21-24) on the other hand provided, created the Tourism Development Fund (TDF), its object, administration and management respectively.
Regional & District Office
The Law in sections fifteen and sixteen (15, 16) also provided for and obliged the GTA Governing Board to create regional and district offices of the authority respectively.
However, the Authority has omitted and woefully failed to especially implement the section sixteen (16) of the Law, ten (10) years after the enactment of the Law.
The Authority to date has a paltry four (4) instead of Two Hundred and Sixty (260) GTADOs, in Bosomtwi, Denu, Navrongo and Techiman respectively. The Techiman GTADO has s been elevated as the Regional Office for the Bono East Region.
Tourism as an important modern and competitive cash-cow is very much crucial and important to our overall national socio-economic transformation and development.
Ministerial Target & need to call GTA to order
The declaration by Dr. Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed AWAL, Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture (MOTAC), to ensure tourism become the foremost contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) by 2024, from its current standing as the fourth largest contributor ,has confirmed the school of thought that tourism sector’s current output is far below its actual capacity and the national consensus that we need new development catalysts to realign and recreate an improved ,expanded , well diversified and modern competitive socio-economic frontier, as such we cannot afford to be left out on the global tourism evolution, MOTAC Minister need to the GTA to order with a deadline to implement the section sixteen (16) of the Tourism Act 2011, to create functional district GTA offices (GTADOs) in all Two Hundred & Sixty (260) Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) across the country.
Model Tourism Destinations
A number Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have prioritized tourism development and are at the forefront with innovative assembly-wide tourism development initiative or the other. Notable among these outstanding tourism conscious assemblies in the country deserving motivation, support, designation and promotion as national model destinations include the Hohoe Municipal Assembly (HMA), Kwahu South Municipal Assembly (KSM), the Ada East District Assembly (AEDA) and the Anloga District Assembly (ADA). Others are the Kommenda-Edna-Eguafo-Abirem Municipal Assembly (KEEAMA), Sekyere-Kumawu District Assembly (SKDA) and the Kintampo Municipal Assembly among the rest. The rest are Kommenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem Municipal Assembly (KEEA), the Afadzato South District Assembly, (ASDA), Anloga District Assembly (ADA) and the Sekyere- Kumawu District Assembly (SKDA) among others.
Amend Tourism Act
Secondly there is also the need for MOTAC Minister and ministry to take urgent steps to review, revise and holistically amend the Tourism Act 2011, Act 2011, to among others designate all MMDAs and traditional authorities and rulers as statutory and strategic frontline tourism custodians.
MMDAs & TARs as Frontline Tourism Custodians
National Tourism Legislation (NTL) to designate all MMDAs and Traditional Authorities and Rulers (TARs) as statutory frontline tourism custodians, would inure and promote robust and vibrant domestic tourism industry across the country and reposition all MMDAs as competitive mini-national destinations from technical support from MOTAC, GTA, the Creative Arts Agency, Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, National Commission on Culture and other allied ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
UNWTO 1:10 Protocol
The above Legislative Strategy (LS), would fulfil Convention 1:10 United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) best industry practice protocol, and also satisfy the strong national consensus that MMDAs and TARs are and must be at the forefront of national tourism development evolution.
The legislation would make it mandatory, oblige and change MMDAs’ orientation towards tourism investment and development in the country.
Errors and need to review National Tourism Legislation, Policy & Strategy
A number of errors, commissions and omissions are found in the national tourism development strategy (NTDS) as well as the absence and lack of national tourism legislation (NTL) and policy regime (PR), since development policies are not events but work in progress documents, there is need to periodically evaluate, review, revise and amend national tourism legislation, strategy and policy regime, to ensure these strategic documents are in tune with best industry practices and trends.
Community /Domestic tourism Industry &1:10 UNWTO Best Industry Protocol
Lack of and the absence of a very vibrant domestic tourism, as proffered and prescribed and reinforced by the evergreen 1:10 United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Convention and best industry practice protocol, which emphasizes and stresses that for any meaning and impactful and sustainable tourism development and industry evolution, for every single one (1) international touristic activity there must be ten (10) corresponding domestic visitations at the facility and or destination in question, has been the bane of national tourism development over the years.
RSI, PR & National Tourism IC&E
High national ignorance about and on the numerous socio-economic benefits of tourism development has never helped the national tourism cause either, with only a few negligible, outstanding and remarkable tourism proactive and development oriented communities who perfectly understand the importance and value of tourism development and have demonstrated it expressly with deeds and indelible actions, there is need for MOTAC to restructure and elevate its public relations unit with the research ,statistics and information (RSI) directorate with expanded mandate to undertake national tourism information, communication and education (IC&E), using a multi-media approach, consisting print, radio, television, lectures, using fact sheets , statistics and data to reorient and realign the national psyche towards national tourism development.
Comprehensive decentralized potential harnessing & development regime
Another major thematic area that the national tourism legislation must concentrate its energies on is to float and promote comprehensive decentralized tourism potential harnessing and tourism development regime smaller units beyond MMDAs , including smaller tourism regions, districts, circuits, enclaves and zones among others also including host community owned facilities, family and individual owned facilities and or destination ownership, which would also promote high indigenous ownership, which would also promote compliance to the evergreen 1:10 UNWTO best industry practice protocol.
Mr. John Yao Agbeko, Chief Director, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture
The MOTAC Minister and ministry must moreover consider the need to review, amend obsolete, fragment and duplicative tourism sub-sector enactments including the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Tourism Development Levy/ Fund (TDL/F) Act 2011, Act 817, the Chieftaincy Act 2008, Act 759, the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB)Act 1969, NLCD 387, the National Commission on Culture (NCC) Law 1990, PNDCL 238 as well as the Culture and the Cultural Trust Fund Policy 2004 and above all consider harmonizing these tourism sub-sector related fragmented legislative pieces into a single tourism sector regulatory document.
The Evergreen Wli Waterfalls, West Africa’s tallest Waterfalls, Wli, Hohoe Municipal, V. Region. The falls attained international prominence as a result of Hohoe Assembly’s proactiveness to tourism promotion
The writer is Tourism, Brands, Branding, Communication & Marketing Analyst, Advocate & activist