Accra, Sept 14, GNA - Professor Kasim Kasanga, Minister of Environment and Science on Tuesday called for the right structures and investment to be put in place to ensure a total transformation of the tourism industry to help accrue the full economic benefits. This, he said if not done, might result in the reduction of potential economic benefits and create some distortions in the economy, with its attendant social and environmental problems.
Speaking at the inauguration of a 21-member national steering committee of the "Environmental Impacts from Coastal Tourism Project" in Accra, Prof. Kasanga stressed the importance of coastal tourism and asked that tourist facilities and expenditure should be tied to the provision of the required services for patrons to get their money's worth. He said the onus therefore, fell on all stakeholders, including government agencies, to provide a wide variety of tourist attractions and facilities that would serve a wider section of the tourist populace, as well as ensuring the provision of quality goods and services.
The main task of the Steering Committee with representatives from the various environmental, tourism and governmental agencies would be to outline and implement policies and strategies for the sustainable management of coastal and marine resources for improved food security, water quality and environmental security.
The five-year multi-million dollar project to be undertaken in Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Seychelles at a cost of 13.5 million dollars, which is being co-sponsored by the Global Environment Facility based in Geneva, is to be executed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in partnership with the World Tourism Organisation (WTO). The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) is to implement the project.
Participating governments are to support the project with four million dollars in the form of "in-kind contributions" like the provision of experts or resource persons and other logistics while the private tourism industries are to support it with 3.5 million dollars. The National Project Coordinator, Mr Napoleon Gbolonyo of the Ministry of Environment explained that the concentration of tourist facilities and activities in the coastal areas in Africa had led to the degradation of the coastal marine environments. That, coupled with the current unsustainable practices by most hotels, poor or non-existence wastewater and solid waste management, was impacting directly on, the health and well-being of marine and coastal environment.
The project, Mr Gbolonyo said, would thus involve the adoption of sustainable coastal tourism development through partnership between the governments, private sector and communities in formulation and implementation of policies, regulations and strategies guiding coastal tourism development. The full project would support the elaboration of appropriate policy and strategy frameworks to guide future development of tourism within the wider context of integrated coastal zone management, he added. He said representatives from the participating countries would meet in Seychelles in November to discuss various countries reports and share ideas on best practices.
Prosper Akpa, UNIDO country Representative said his organisation was involved in the project to strengthen public-private partnerships in undertaking a number of demonstration activities to minimise the negative impacts from tourism on marine and coastal areas in Africa. "In doing so, we will be preserving sensitive and vulnerable habitats thus ensuring the conservation of the globally significant biodiversity of the continent." He praised Ghana for her role as the flagship of most of UNIDO's regional environmental projects.
Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City in a speech read on his behalf expressed unflinching support to the project and indicated that, under the Ministry's tourism strategic action plan, coastal lands have been focused to be developed to enhance tourism. The Ministry, he said, was collaborating with the Survey Department to carry out aerial photography, mapping and survey of lands for the preparation of site plans for proper documentation.