Ghana to host world tourism day
By: Innocent Appiah
Ghana will host this year’s international World Tourism Day (WTD) celebration from September 21-27. The theme for the Day is “Tourism-Celebrating Diversity”.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly arrived at the decision at its 17th Session held in Cartagena de India’s Columbia in November 2007. At the same Session, Ghana was elected the Second Vice Chairman to The Executive Council on the UNWTO.
This has been due to Ghana’s long standing relations with the UNWTO, as well as its active role in activities of the world body and Commission for Africa as well as Ghana’s track record and pioneering role in the international arena.
According to the UNWTO, globalization is contentious due to the perceived fear of homogenizing cultural and ecological singularity on the one hand, and the advocated benefits for all nations and peoples, which will eventually trickle down to enrich and empower even the poorest. Tourism can help strike a balance and make a difference by helping to preserve diversity in the context of globalization as an inevitable manifestation of our time. Diversity is a major industry asset and as such plays an important role in promoting the sustainable development of countries.
The tourism industry contributes to raising awareness of the challenges related to maintaining diversity in the age of globalization.
A huge variety of local customs co-exist all over the world, be they languages, religions, architecture, food, political or natural environment.
This diverse environment has allowed the travel and tourism industry to thrive and become the largest single export industry and a leading force in the service sector.
Every region of the world is distinct and thus has something both to offer and gain through travel and tourism, particularly within less developed nations. It is the responsibility of industry stakeholders to harness these opportunities whilst facing the long-term challenges engendered by travel and tourism.
Everything in the world is so diverse and it is that diversity that propels tourism. This is because people are different, life-styles are different; food, music, clothing, and the like, are different. From this comes eco-tourism, recreational tourism, health tourism, spa, and in trying to enjoy all these, comes in the components of the hotels, restaurants, night clubs, shopping, souvenirs, and that makes up the diversity aspect of tourism.
“Tourism-Celebrating Diversity” highlights this varied environment, which is at the very centre of tourism.
Diversity has indeed been the motor behind travel and tourism for centuries. It is the responsibility of all to promote the sustainable development of the industry whilst conserving the unique facets present on the globe.
What is exciting about this year’s event is that the theme itself is so revealing that one would get deeper into the nature of tourism. The most exciting aspect is that as the WTD is rotated among member-countries, this is the first time it is being celebrated in Africa, and Ghana happens to be the first country in the region to host it.
It, therefore, gives Ghana the opportunity to actually translate its resolve and determination to be the preferred tourism destination in Africa and thus become the gate-way to Africa. Hence, this is the opportune moment to stamp on that resolve. Looking at the activities that have been lined up for the celebration, it is an opportunity for Ghanaians to also taste the tourism that they have heard so much about, since the opportunity is being given for them to be part of the celebration, especially the local and inter-regional tours.
On the activates to mark the Day is a Think Tank which is going to comprise almost all people directly and indirectly connected with tourism. International professionals in the industry are also coming to Ghana for the event. They include the Secretary-General of UNWTO with his to brass form the UNWTO; 10 international travel writers at the initiation of UNWTO to taste the golden experience of Ghana.
Similarly, people with knowledge and experience in the tourism and hospitality industry are expected to participate in the Think Tank to share their rich knowledge and experiences; they include the President of the world travel and tourism council, President of the international hotels and restaurants association. Minister of Culture and Tourism of Ethiopia, Mohamoud Dinr Gheddi, will be delivering the keynote address. And talking about the blend between culture and tourism, Ethiopia is a perfect example of that. A former Minister for Tourism of Tunisia, Tidjani Hadad, a member of the strategic group of the UNWTO, is taking part in the celebration There will be a debate by Ghanaian professionals to share ideas on the global issues in tourism.
The Think Tank, which aims at discussing the theme for the Day from different angles, will comprise all tourism stakeholders namely: representatives of National Tourism Administrations; national and local governments; accommodation providers; transport operators; market intermediaries; tourism trade associations; local communities; attractions; events and cultural organizations; educational institutions; as well as non governmental organisations and the media. Discussions at the Think Tank will include Diversity, Globalisation and Tourism; Cultural and Environmental Diversity and Tourism: Tourism strengthening the ties between nations.
On the programme outlined for the one-week celebration in a press trip for international and local travel writers, who have an orientation and city tour of Accra on Tuesday, September 22. The same day will witness the official opening of a tourism exhibition at the Accra International Conference Centre.
On Wednesday, September 23, the team will depart for Cape Coast, where they will visit the Kakum National Park; Cape Coast and Elmina Castles. This will be followed by the team visiting three Asante craft
Villages – Ahwia wood carving village; Ntonso Adinkra printing village and Bonwire / Adawonmase kente weaving village.
The team will on September 26, tour Bunso Aboretum, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, Tetteh Quarshie cocoa farm, all in the Eastern region and on September 27, which is the climax of the Day, attend the Think Tank, press conference, communication workshop (Ghana Tourism image and the media) and Ghana gala night at the banquet hall (exposition of Ghanaian cuisine, music, dance, fashion show, among others).
The contribution of tourism to economic well-being depends on the quality and revenue tourism offers. UNWTO assists destinations in their sustainable positions in ever more complex national and international markets.
It is very opportune to the private sector to demand from government, to act on the revised National Tourism Policy that has been gathering dust over the years. Ghanaians must also use the opportunity to as a matter of urgency, review outdated and archaic legislations that regulate the tourism industry, since the sector is very robust and dynamic. Sadly the Ghanaian sector is being regulated by laws as old as 30 years and above.
Ghana’s Tourism sector deserves better attention, since each and every hamlet, village, town, city, district or region in Ghana has one unique tourism plant or facility that are scattered around the country, and whose potentials is crying for exploration and development, and which has the potential to ensure an even development of the country to above all stop the Rural-Urban drift, in search of non existing white-coloured jobs.
The WTD was instituted on September 27, 1970 to draw attention to tourism’s contribution to socio-economic development and greater co-operation between diverse cultures. The UNWTO, headquartered in Madrid, Spain plays a crucial role and a decisive role in the development of responsible, sustainable and universally acceptable tourism with particular reference to the interests of developing countries.
The Spectator - Pages: 20-21 Saturday, September 19, 2009