2021 World Tourism Day Celebration must propel tourism development of the Volta Region

Omicron will obstruct all the gains made towards tourism recovery…who bears the blame?
Philip GEBU

The Volta Region just hosted World Tourism Day celebration. The deputy Minster for Tourism said “Volta Region is an incredible epitome of tourism enclave hence the reason to have this year’s celebration in the region,” Anyone who has been to the Volta Region will attest to the above. Indeed, Volta Region is blessed with so many tourist attractions and should indeed be the hub of tourism in Ghana.

According to news report I monitored, The CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) Mr. Akwasi Agyeman said his outfit has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a number of communities in the Volta Region to develop and upgrade the region. He added that the Authority is committed to making sure there is a continuous development of tourism in the country.

He revealed that the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary was upgraded and support was given to Afadjato through the Tourism Authority Grant. This is great news and it is expected that this will materialised into positive economic gains. The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, also touted the region as a tourism hub for Ghana. He however lamented the slow tourism development pace in the region and emphasized that this situation must change.

Yes, indeed irrespective of the beautiful attractions of the region, if the roads leading to these attractions are not improved, tourists will be deterred to visiting the region. The Hohoe highway especially has really been a challenge considering its current state and makes every journey long cumbersome and unenjoyable. The roads need to be improved and this year’s celebration and focus on the region should help realised these goals.

All the most important stakeholders have added their voices and it’s expected the change will happened. The UNWTO reminds us that international arrivals have dwindled by close to 90% however domestic tourism is rebounding and the development of the roads will be a booster to drive domestic tourism to the Volta Region.

The day is celebrated every year to herald the socio-economic, political, and cultural importance of the Sector to national and international economies through Gross Domestic Product growth, jobs, and employment creation.

The official World Tourism Day is held in a World Tourism Organisation (WTO) designated country with participation from the rest of the world. This year’s (2021) Day was held in Cote d’Ivoire on the theme, “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”. The theme for this year was to highlight a participatory approach to creating and sharing tourism wealth for poverty reduction, decency in living standards, and livelihoods security.

History of World Tourism Day

The day was first commemorated in 1980 by the UNWTO General Assembly at the third session in Torremolinos, Spain in September 1979. The timing falls at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere. The day is celebrated on the anniversary of the adoption of the statutes of the Organization in 1970 for creating a route for the establishment of UNWTO after five years. Since then, World Tourism Day is observed each year.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is accountable for the promotion of responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism across the globe. UNWTO secures part of the sector along with the communities, minorities, and young people who are at risk.

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) designated World Tourism Day 2021 as a day to focus on “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”. ”Tourism is a recognized pillar of most – if not all – the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), particularly Goals 1 (no poverty), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 10 (reduce inequalities).

Global vaccination plan crucial for a recovery

UNWTO reminds us again that, the biggest crisis in the history of tourism continued into a second year. Despite a small uptick in May, the emergence of COVID-19 variants and the continued imposition of restrictions are weighing on the recovery of international travel. Meanwhile, domestic tourism continues to rebound in many parts of the world.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism could result in a more than $4 trillion loss to the global economy and tourism experts do not expect a return to pre-COVID arrival levels until 2023 or later. Developing countries have borne the biggest brunt of the pandemic’s impact on tourism due to the absence of widespread COVID-19 vaccinations.

They suffered the largest reductions in tourist arrivals in 2020, estimated at between 60% and 80%. UNTWO appeals to us that as we celebrated World Tourism Day, the COVID-19 pandemic represents an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector. Tourism has a unique ability to make sure nobody is left behind, as recognized by the Second Principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs.

Official Message by the Secretary-General, UN

On World Tourism Day, we recognize the power and potential of tourism to advance prosperity and drive inclusive, sustainable development. The tourism sector touches almost every part of our economies and societies, enabling historically marginalized people and those at risk of being left behind to benefit from development that is local and direct.

Tourism continues to suffer enormously under the COVID-19 pandemic: in the first five months of this year, international tourist arrivals decreased by a staggering 95 per cent in parts of the world and forecasts suggest a loss of over $4 trillion to global GDP by the end of 2021.

This is a major shock for developed economies, but for developing countries, it is an emergency. Climate change is also severely affecting many major tourist destinations, particularly Small Island Developing States where tourism accounts for nearly 30 percent of economic activity.

With many millions of livelihoods in jeopardy, it is time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism. With the right safeguards in place, the tourism sector can provide decent jobs, helping to build resilient, sustainable, gender-equal, inclusive economies and societies that work for everyone.

This means targeted action and investment to shift towards green tourism – with high emitting sectors, including air and sea transport and hospitality, moving towards carbon neutrality.  And it means giving everybody a say in how tourism shapes the future of our societies and our planet.

Only through inclusive decision-making can we ensure inclusive, sustainable growth, deliver on the promise of the SDGs, and transform tourism to fulfil its potential as an engine for prosperity, a vehicle for integration, a means to protect our planet and biodiversity, and an agent of cultural understanding between peoples.

Official Message by the Secretary-General, UNWTO

The human desire to travel and explore is universal, which is why tourism must be open for everyone to enjoy. So too must the many social and economic benefits that tourism brings be available to everybody. World Tourism Day 2021 highlights the power of ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth.

By celebrating this day, we state our commitment that, as tourism grows, the benefits that come will be felt at every level of our broad and diverse sector, from the biggest airline to the smallest family business. We reaffirm our pledge that, as we move forward and work to build a more prosperous and peaceful world through tourismwe will not leave anyone behind.

It is a pledge that is both timely and necessary. The pause in international travel caused by the pandemic has made clear the relevance of tourism to our societies. The economic and social impact has been felt far beyond the sector itself. And in many places, the most vulnerable members of society have been hit hardest of all.

Working for inclusive growth means getting everybody behind a better vision for tourism. Only this way can tourism’s restart reach the people and communities that need it the most right now and build the foundations for a better future for all. I welcome all our Members, Affiliate Members, governments, destinations and businesses to join us in marking this day, celebrated as tourism’s importance to every part of our societies is more evident than ever before.

With the solidarity messages from the above two important persons, I will end by encouraging all Ghanaians to get involved in domestic travels not only to the Volta Region but other regions as well. This and only this can offset the losses incurred.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to [email protected] / [email protected]. Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visit our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations


Leave a Reply