Under the auspices of H.E Nana Addo Danquah Akufo- Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana and the Ministry of Tourism,Culture & Creative arts with support from the Ghana Tourism Authority and Ghana Tourist Development Company, the World Tourism Forum – Africa Summit was held in Accra Ghana. This unique forum which was the first of it’s kind held in Africa brought together stakeholders, investors, policy makers and many other players in the Tourism & Hospitality sector to discuss and debate several topics channeled toward the development and sustainability of tourism in Africa, particularly Ghana. Many international tourism experts mounted the stage at various times to share knowledge on strategies as well as plans to make tourism in Ghana and Africa better. Although this was a global event, the benefits to Ghana as a growing tourism country was enormous. Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online travel website examines the ways in which Ghana has benefited from this year’s World Tourism Forum.
Global Attention – On Tuesday, Ghana became the centre of attraction for every Dick, Tom and Harry in the Tourism industry. Being that the World Tourism Forum was taking place in Africa for the very first time, all roads led to Accra. International media and journalists were present to broadcast the event live while many other nationalities visited our country for the first time. As said by one of the local speakers, ‘’ for once, Ghana is not being broadcasted on international media for poverty or diseases. For once, Africa is not being given the spotlight for it’s political instability and wars. For once, something good will be said about Ghana and Africa’’. This shows the world how far we have come as a country and a continent. We are the biggest winners because many travelers out there who may not have known Ghana or may have had several misconceptions will now see Ghana as a possible tourist destination. Moreover, because world tourism leaders have made their way here, it shows the country and region is safe for travel and tourism. Our doors are open! Welcome!
Employment opportunities – Whenever an international event such as the world cup or world conference, thousands of business and employment opportunities arise. Every step of the way, there is a job for someone. From logistics to ushering, from security to photography, there is a job in there for everyone. There is always an opportunity to make some extra money. Although this was a one day event, preparations for it started months in advance and gave many the chance to play a part in history while making some good money. For many others, the job wasn’t just for the money. The experience gathered and the networking opportunities were great. Having access to nearly everyone who matters in the travel and tourism industry is a platform many can only dream about. As some may put it, ‘’you got the chance to dine with kings and queens’’.
Showcase of culture and Tradition – If there is one nation that never hesitates to showcase it’s rich culture, tradition and heritage, then it’s Ghana. You should have seen the ushers and escorts dressed in colourful ‘’kente’’ with their stylish ‘’ahenema’’ and beautiful beads to compliment. Welcoming all guests were the cultural troops which consisted of local drummers and dancers who sang and danced to melodious cultural tunes coined from historic fables and myths. These sights were just so memorable. You could even tell from the smiles and body movements of the international guests that they loved every bit of it. The culture was diverse and every part of the event had it’s own piece of tradition. During lunch, Ghana put on a show! A masterpiece. With several local dishes being prepared live by local cooks for guests to see firsthand how these meals were being prepared before they took anything. Fufu was being pounded, banku prepared. Local drinks like ‘’pito’’, ‘’palm wine’’ and ‘’sobolo’’ were also available.
4. Investment Opportunities – Aside the influx of several nationalities that came into Ghana in that period, one thing was clear. Ghana is ripe for business. Good business in all sectors. Many of the participants and experts also took the opportunity to discuss business partnerships and possible investments with Ghana. There were ministers of state and other high profile executives from government. Nearly everyone you needed to talk to about investing in Ghana was there for taking. This was made very clear by the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council, Mr Yoofi Grant in one of his submissions. He said ‘’ Our doors are open to any form of investment that benefits our country and the various sectors of the economy. Ghana is a country rich in culture and tradition. If you want to do good business in a free spirit country with lovely people, then you are in the right place’’.
5. Awards – The very climax of the forum was an awards gala dubbed ‘’The African Tourism Awards’’. This gala was used to appreciate the efforts of certain stakeholders and players in the industry who have excelled and contributed immensely to the success and development of Tourism in Africa. Accra City Hotel, a 4 star hotel in Accra took home the African City Centre Award while Kempinski Gold Coast City Hotel, Accra also got rewarded for their hospitality and excellent service throughout the forum. Indeed, this is an extra plus for Ghanaian hospitality as these endorsements only show how far this sector has gone in delivery professional service to both domestic and international clients.
Although the World Tourism Forum was held in Africa for the first time, it is evidently clear that Ghana was the biggest winner. More of such international events should be held here. We are always ready!