THE CHIEF Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr Akwasi Agyemang, has said the country’s economic future depends on tourism and not gold, timber or oil that are usually referred to.
According to GTA boss, countries like United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Malaysia which do not have many natural resources compared to Ghana are economically sound through tourism.
Mr Agyemang, speaking during the maiden edition of the West Africa Integrated Travel (WAIT) forum, said, “Gold and oil may get finished in this country, we may cut all trees and timber would get finished, but tourism will forever remain and that is Ghana’s future.”
About 400 tourism industry players in West Africa participated in the main edition of the Travel Forum, which was on the theme: ‘Promoting Integrated Travel within West Africa- Bridging the Gap.’
The participants included tour operators and officials from immigration, customs, transportation, water and waste companies from Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
The two-day forum organised by the Ghana Tourism Authority in partnership with the West Africa Tourism Organisation was aimed at beginning a process of promoting joint marketing efforts amongst tourism boards and authorities in the sub-region.
It also seeks to increase awareness of West Africa’s tourism products and related information, as well as provide a platform to draw the attention of related authorities and policy makers to ease up travel blocks within the sub-region.
Mr Agyemang added that as a tourism authority, Ghana had taken it upon itself to lead the charge for integrated tourism within West Africa as is being done in Southern and Eastern Africa.
“If you go to southern Africa now, Namibia, South Africa, and Botswana have what we call Retosa, which seeks to bring their tourism potential together. The same thing is happening in Eastern Africa – Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. We feel that West Africa has to also integrate, come together, market and position itself and seek to attract enough tourists into our various countries.
“We cannot do it as individual country, we can do it as a bloc, [and] it will help us with the economics of scale that comes to negotiate better deals with airlines, tour operators who are selling packages into Africa and all that,” he said.