SEPT. 21-27, when Ghana hosts the world
By: JAMES HARRY OBENG
Exactly two month after US President Barack Hussein Obama, and his family, paid a historic visit to the Cape Coast Castle, to have a first-hand feel of how the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was executed two centuries ago, thousands of tourists from around the globe are expected to descend on the ancient facility to savour memories of their ancestors.
The visit to the castle, to say the least, will form only a minute part of the experiences that tourists will be making across the country, as they go on sight-seeing of historic edifices, participate in local festivals, cuisine, fashion music, culture and traditions, hospitality, exhibitions, among others.
All these will form part of activities making this year’s international celebration of the United Nations World Tourism Day, scheduled for September 21-27, this month.
By reason of her pioneering role in the international arena which covers her active participation in the activities of the Africa Union, Ghana has received the green light of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to host the event for this year.
The event, which aims at creating awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural and economic values, sets Ghana on edge as she prepares to receive tourists, international tourist and travel writers, who will put the global spotlight on Ghana for the six days.
To be held under the theme Tourism, Celebrating Diversity, the event will highlight the importance of tourism, which is the country’s third foreign exchange earner after cocoa and gold.
Already, preparations towards the celebration are advanced to welcome tourists some of whom have arrived in the country to experience what she has to offer the world, in terms of tourism.
Mr. Kobby Acheampong, the deputy Minister of Tourism, told The Spectator, on Tuesday, that the ministry has mapped out a new marketing strategy to make the tourism industry as one of the cardinal pillars of productivity and a sustainable source of decent employment and poverty reduction in the country.
The strategy, he explained, included repackaging major tourist attractions in the country and also discovering unknown ones that will bait tourists from all over the world to the country.
Mr. Acheampong stated that it was the priority of the ministry to “supplant Senegal which is currently the preferred tourism destination of tourists in West Africa” to bolster the annual number of annual tourists in the country from the current 700,000 to one million by 2012.
He said the ministry, in collaboration with allied industry agencies, has put in place aggressive measures to ensure the safety and security of tourists, and added that other infrastructural projects were also in place to reduce travelling time for tourists.
“We want to have repeat visitors, and so we are also putting in a place a new, vibrant web marketing strategy to market the country for the event and after.”
“What we’ve realized is that people today just sit in the comfort of their homes and, with their laptops or computers, try to find out interesting places to visit.”
“So just as we partnered Yahoo and Google to sell the country when US President Obama was coming, we are also doing the same for tourism in the country because the internet has proven to reach more people than the TV sets does,” he said.
Mr. Acheampong, however, called for a paradigm shift in the mindset of people towards tourism: “It is multi-sectoral industry which therefore means that it’s all-inclusive and not the business of government alone.”
Among the major highlights for the occasion are as the follows;
On Sunday, September27, at the Accra international Conference centre (AICC), the Think Tank brings together major stakeholders to brainstorm on the tourism in the world perspective, especially given the prevailing circumstances like the credit crunch and other infrastructural developments. The theme for the discussions will be Tourism, Celebrating Diversity.
There will also be a Communication Workshop for media, both local and international, on Ghana: Tourism Image and the Media at the Press Centre.
The Secretary General of the UNWTO will also address a press conference at the AICC. A Ghana Gala Night press conference at the AICC. A Ghana Gala Night (exposition of Ghanaian Music, dance, fashion etc) closes the day’s activities at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Accra.
Saturday, September 26, witnesses and official tour of tourism officials, tourists, stakeholders and the media to original Tetteh Quarshie’s cocoa farm, at Bunso Aboretum and Musical Concert at the National Theatre.
Activities for Friday, September 25, include the inauguration of School Travels at the Efua Sutherland Park; a Gastronomy Fair at the La Palm Royal Beach, Accra: a Tourism Conference at the AICC and a What Do You Know quiz competition (finals) on tourism for selected schools in the country.
There will be conferences on tourism on Thursday, September24 and Wednesday, September 23 at the AICC.
On Tuesday, September 22 will be the Official Opening of Tourism Exhibition at the AICC, following an Orientation and Press Trip for international and Local Travel Writers, on the same day.
… and what you probably didn’t know
The first administration of the country, under Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, in the early 1960s, set up the National Tourist Board, now known as the Ghana Tourist Board, to oversee tourism in the country.
Currently, administration of tourism in Ghana follows this pattern: there is the Ministry of Tourism, located in the capital Accra, whose main function is to formulate–tourism–related policies. Under the ministry is the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) which is also the National Tourist Organisation (NTO), to market Ghana in the domestic and international tourist markets.
There are other functions such as quality assurance, licensing and classification of tourists or visitor–receptive units, including hotels, motels, restaurants, rest houses, drinking bars and chop bars.
GTB also regulates, controls and licenses travel agents and tour operating units. It also conducts research and maintains the National Tourist Information Office. The GTB also deals with planning and business develo0pment, in addition to human resource develo0pment. Unlike the Ministry, the GTB has offices in the capitals of the ten administrative regions of Ghana.
There are agencies and associations which operate under the GTB, some of which are the Ghana Hotels Association, Ghana Travel & Tourist Agents, and Car Hire Services.
The Ghana Tourist Development Company (GTDC) is also under the Ministry of Tourism, to seek local and foreign investment for the tourist industry. The Hotel, Catering and Tourism Training School HOTCATT), a UNDP/WTO Ghana Government project, is also another unit under the Ministry to rain and improve the level of professional tour operators as well as all categories of practitioners in the tourists trade.
Culled from Ghana, A visitor’s Guide.
The Spectator Page: 17 Saturday, September 12, 2009