The theme for the 2023 World Tourism Day Celebration is Tourism and Green Investments. Ghana joined other nations around the world to mark the day with activities in Ada in the Greater Accra Region.
Launching the day, the Deputy Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Mark Okraku Mantey said that there is a symbiotic relationship between tourism, the environment, the planet and people and that tourism could be used as a vehicle to promote innovative investments in the traditional setting and can be used to develop a competitive and sustainable growth for people and country.
According to him, there is the need for us to we redefine the direction of our tourism, taking into consideration the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Green investments in the tourism industry have become one of the crucial means of doing so, for they can contribute to far-reaching economic, social, and environmental benefits for countries and communities. Green investments create stronger linkages with the local economy and increase local development potentials, leading to activities which are indefinite and sustainable in the social, economic, and environmental context.
He said the United Nations emphasizes the need for targeted investment in people and the planet for it to unlock the potential of tourism on its extensive value chain and facilitate investment and opportunities to deliver more inclusive and sustainable growth for the planet around the pillars of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Given this, Hon. Okraku-Mantey said the Ministry is committed and will put in place targeted investments to continuously promote the sector to take advantage of the industry’s economic benefits. He said, the Year of Return initiative for instance helped to revitalise Ghana’s tourism sector and has projected the country significantly as a destination of choice. Again, he said, the 2022 annual report shows that international arrivals grew by about 47% from 623,523 in 2021 to 914,892 in 2022. This means that Ghana’s arrival recovery stood at 81% from pre-pandemic levels, far above the African average.
He opined that the World Economic Forum and the 2021 Travel Index reports, ranked Ghana as the number one tourism destination in West Africa. Therefore, the potential contribution of tourism and the creative arts sector to GDP is encouraging and must be deliberately nurtured using all available opportunities.
Hon Okraku-Mantey said this year’s celebration presents an opportunity to enhance more forcefully, the promotion of sustainable tourism (Ecotourism) as well as investing in people and the planet. The development of ecotourism in our communities lies in the preservation of the tangible and intangible aspects of our cultural heritage, our environment, gastronomy, and fashion in line with the “Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana and See Ghana” agenda.
He said that given that Ghana is a flourishing ecotourism destination, the theme for the World Tourism Day celebration: “Tourism and Green Investments” is not only timely but necessary. Through the Ghana Tourism Development project, he said the ministry has commenced investments in tourism-related interventions at some selected eco-tourism sites namely the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, the Paga Crocodile Pond, Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary, Aburi Botanical Gardens, Nzulenzo Village on Stilts, Mount Afajato, and Kintampo Waterfalls. Other investments are in museums and monuments and include the renovation of the National Gallery with an ultramodern facility which is currently open to the public and the refurbishment of the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. Furthermore, as part of the agenda to develop the skills set needed to improve the tourism sector, the Ministry through the Ghana Tourism Development Company successfully organized and trained 3000 drivers at the KNUST commercial area in Kumasi.
Hon. Okraku-Mantey said that it was not by accident that Ada was chosen to celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day. The Ada traditional area is endowed with natural attractions which range from beautiful palm-lined beaches, estuary islands, marine turtles, the meeting point of the Volta River and the Atlantic Ocean, water sports from speed boats to sailing, canoeing, surfing and many more. All these are potential tourism resources which can be developed through public and private sector partnerships. He used the opportunity to encourage the traditional authorities, and the district assembly to pay attention to the development of the tourism potentials within the area.
He reaffirmed government’s commitment in ensuring that people prospered. He therefore urged the Ada District Assembly to take the lead by considering aggressive tourism promotion as a priority in its development agenda. He said any activity they embarked on, must be carried out within the framework of Public-Private Sector Partnership, with the active involvement of all stakeholders. By so doing, tourism will contribute to poverty alleviation, through the creation of livelihood opportunities, especially for the unemployed, the youth and women. He commended Nananom and the citizens of the area for their special efforts in helping to develop the area and encouraged them to continue with their good work.
Welcoming participants to Ada, the District Chief Executive, Ms Sarah Dugbakie Pobee said the commemoration and the theme, enabled the planting of approximately a thousand mango seedlings in the town. This according to her, will help to enrich the environment with more greenery and has enabled them to join in the campaign against climate change.
Dignitaries present at the function were the Paramount Chief of Ada Traditional Area, Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku III, Board Chair of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr. Seth Adjei-Baah, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr John Yao Agbeko, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr. Akwasi Agyeman, the Vice President of the Ghana Tourism Federation, Dr Kwesi Eyison, the President of the Ghana Hotels Association Dr. Edward Nyamike Jnr and members of the Ada Chieftaincy Board.
As a prelude to the celebration, a tree-planting exercise was undertaken on Tuesday 26th September 2023 at Wasakuse, a suburb in Ada to plant mangrove trees. Later in the day, a football match was held between Let’s Tour Ghana and the Ghana Tourism Authority at the Mc Dan Sports Complex in Sege.
There was also a Regatta at Mensah Kpanya, Ada Foah on 26th September 2023.
On 27th September a visit was paid by staff of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and some other important dignitaries to the Kyinkyim Museum, which has been creatively and artistically built on a 115-acre land with unique sculptures that tell stories about Africa and the struggles it faced.