The Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, has been awarded by the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation for spearheading an innovative tourism drive in Ghana and Africa.
The award, the first of its kind to be presented to a minister from sub-Saharan Africa, was also in recognition of Dr. Awal’s efforts at promoting tourism between Ghana and the Mediterranean region.
The president of Malta, Mr. George Vella who presented the award, described Dr. Awal as a creative and worthy ambassador of Ghana and Africa.
According to Mr. Vella: “Much as it is good and important to look into the future, it is also good to look into the rear-view mirror and recognise all those who contributed to what we have today – and all those who are today spearheading efforts, knowledge and ideas to rekindle and create a new approach to tourism by spearheading it along a sustainable and resilient development path”.
He said this requires bold and transformative steps underpinned by new tools, new data, new ways of working and new resources significantly built on the experience of the past.
The president also presented awards to a number of individuals from various Mediterranean countries for their role in the promotion of tourism.
He said tourism has the potential to overcome instability, because earnings from tourism trickle down to people in the community and create opportunities for a better future.
Mr. Vella added that when tourism is managed correctly, it is not only sustainable but also easily adaptable and flexible to specific economic and social realities.
The president indicated tourism is an economic and social raw material and resource that is not only capable of overcoming differences among key players across the Mediterranean region and the world at large, but also has the potential of strength and diversity.
Mr. Vella said Malta enjoys excellent relations with all Mediterranean countries and their surrounding regions, and therefore has an important role to play in the area’s socio-economic development.
The Secretary-General of Mediterranean Tourism Foundation, Mr. Andrew Agius Muscat, said as international tourism rebounds tourism-related issues resurface, and therefore stressed the need for sustainable development.
He said tourism should therefore play a key role in achieving a sustainable future for the world.
Mr. Muscat said tourism should be done in a way that protects both people and places, and secures a positive future for destinations and local communities for generations to come.
The Secretary-General said it is imperative for the hospitality sector to go digital – adding that the prevalence of social media has radically changed the relationship between guests and hoteliers, and online reviews have a huge impact on potential guests as they do research before making travel decisions.
Mr. Muscat said there are plans to establish a West African office of the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation in Ghana, to promote tourism and investment between Africa and the Mediterranean.
In a related development, participants at the Mediterranean Tourism Forum called for concerted efforts to revive tourism following the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating effects.
The participants, who came from over 30 countries and organisations, appealed for more investment in the sector; arguing that the tourism sector is responsible for two out of every ten jobs created.
COVID-19, climate change, war, inflation and high food prices are impacting the global economy. There is therefore a need for policy initiatives and solutions which will change that narrative and protect lives and jobs, the participants entreated.