As part of the 10th-anniversary celebrations, the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, UCC, has held its maiden National Tourism Dialogue and Conference under the theme: “Tourism and Hospitality in Ghana: Past Experiences, Present State and Future Outlook.”
The theme for the Programme
The Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Barima Kwabena Antwi, who chaired the function indicated that theme for the programme was very relevant because it was in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, and possibly seek to address pertinent issues that confront the development of tourism in the country. He noted that tourism, indeed, has the potential to grow the Ghanaian economy and therefore ought to be given the needed support and attention to succeed. The Dean urged participants to contribute their quota to bring the programme to fruition.
Prof. Barima Kwabena Antwi stressed on the need for continuous training of human resource, so as to move with the changing trends in the industry. He charged the major stakeholders and the industry players to develop a policy to guide the industry’s local content.
Development of Tourism Products
In her welcome address, the Head, Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Dr. Eunice Fay Amissah, stated that the potential of tourism in Ghana was very huge and called for the development of other tourism products. However, she noted that Ghana as compared to other key tourism destinations in Africa was far behind in developing new tourism products. The Head of Department mentioned, “limited understanding of tourism as a development option; lack of investment in the industry; poor infrastructure; lack of professionalism and the expensive nature of Ghana as a tourist destination as some of the challenges facing the industry.” She was hopeful that the conference would go a long way to contribute immensely to the development of the tourism and hospitality industry in the country.
Dr. Amissah said the Department was in active partnership with the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) to train frontline personnel in the industry; it has also played a key role in the drafting of the National Tourism and Hospitality Policy and has received a positive report on students’ performance from the industry. She said the department has planned to organize regional customer service training workshop in Cape Coast, Takoradi and for UCC cleaners.
Contribution of the Hospitality Industry to GDP
A representative of the Ghana Hoteliers Association (GHA), Mr. Ben Kweku Idun, commended the Department for creating such a national platform to sensitise stakeholders and the major players, on the issues, challenges and concerns of the Hospitality and Tourism industry in the country. He said that, “Hotels alone contribute 2.9% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and offer 2.4% jobs for people.” However, Mr. Idun stated that the hotels face many challenges which included high utility tariffs; exchange rate; high lending interest rates; high tax and levy regimes; inflation rates; heavy regulation of the bodies, among others. He continued to explain, that the utility tariffs take up between 25% - 30% of revenue generated. Mr. Kweku Idun indicated, “The hospitality sector remains a vehicle for Ghana’s economic growth and has demonstrated high potential for employment and tax revenues, therefore, all issues confronting its operations require all our attention. GHA as a partner is ready to work with the government and stakeholders in resolving those issues.”
Challenges of the Tourism Industry
In a message, the President, Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), Madam Bella Ahu, noted that the challenges of the industry were as a result of the limited understanding of the tourism industry right from the Ministry to the general public. The GHATOF President commented that tourism should not in any way be considered as entertainment. This, she explained was because “the industry person who has a better understanding of the industry are not appointed to head the Ministry in charge of tourism.” Madam Ahu noted that there was the need to have a ‘National Tourism Policy’ which would provide the major players in the industry clear directions and called for draft to be finalized. To her colleagues, she said, “We should be conscious about our sanitation by cleaning our environment in order to attract more visitors and arrivals.” She charged hospitality and tourism management institutions to train and equip their students to march industry performance and urged students to study hard to help build a better tourism industry. “It is my aspiration that Ghanaians will manage upscale hotels in the country,” Madam Ahu remarked.
Present were the Provost, College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Prof. Moses Jojo Eghan, the Dean, Centre for International Education, UCC, Prof. Kwaku A. A. Boakye, the Ghana Director, Confucius Institute, UCC, Prof. Ishmael Mensah, Dr. Edem Amenumey, a representative from the Tourism Development Fund, Madam Ruth A. Ankrah, representatives from Cape Coast Technical University, lecturers, staff and students.