A Senior Lecturer at the University of Energy and Natural Resources has said the tourism sector is Ghana’s fourth largest foreign exchange earner, fetching the country 2.2 million dollars in 2015.

The figure represents 4.8 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Professor Felix Adebayo Adekoya said the industry was a key economic driver, which had huge potentials to speed up rapid socio-economic growth and development.

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Speaking at a symposium in Sunyani to mark the 2018 World Tourism Day on Tuesday, Prof. Adekoya said the industry could generate and improve on the country’s foreign exchange earnings, create more jobs and wealth as well as stimulate other sectors of the economy.

World Tourism Day, celebrated every 27th September around the world, is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on tourism’s actual and potential contribution to sustainable development.

This year’s celebration would help to put the opportunities provided to tourism by technological advances including big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms on the map of sustainable development.

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The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) sees digital advances and innovation as part of the solution to the challenge of marrying continued growth with a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector.

The symposium was organised by the Brong-Ahafo Regional office of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), on the theme: “Tourism and the Digital Transformation”.

In 2015 alone Ghana’s tourism sector employed an estimated 393,000 people directly and indirectly as hotel, restaurant, travel trade, entertainment, recreational and tourist site managers, Prof. Adekoya said.

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He indicated that Ghana had rich culture, historical heritages, diverse wildlife, nice tropical climate and coastline beaches, which could be harnessed to push forward her development agenda.

Prof Adekoya expressed regret that the country’s tourism sector remained in the dark as successive governments had not demonstrated serious political will to grow it.

He said with the use of digital marketing (internet) tools, the country could easily highlight her numerous tourism potentials, attract investors, and build the sector to boost eco-tourism.

Mr Joseph Appiagyei, the Acting Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the GTA, said the Region was endowed with many tourism attraction sites that could be developed for rapid socio-economic progress.

He said service delivery in the sector had witnessed sharp and significant improvement and appealed to the media to help showcase the Region’s potentials to the outside world.

Mr Appiagyei said investing in the tourism industry had huge gains and advised the private sector to develop the interest and invest in the sector.