Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has said there is a huge tourism potential to be harnessed in Africa towards accelerated development.
“We should promote our local content in all sectors of the regional economy given the enormous resources that have gone into developing human capital in our countries,” he said yesterday when he delivered a keynote address at the first “Regional Congress on Women in Tourism Sector – Focus on Africa” in Accra yesterday.
He tasked participants at the two-day workshop to explore how they could use tourism to tackle some of Africa's common development challenges, including poverty, illiteracy, diseases, outmoded cultural practices and mismanagement of its natural resources.
“I indulge all of you to contribute generously to improve the industry and empower women in tourism for sustainable development and to improve the living standards of our people,” he said.
He also stressed the need for proper deliberations on how to improve on timely collection, analysis and dissemination of tourism data in order to inform strategic decision-making for all stakeholders.
He said that was because “tourism constitutes one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and that the industry has become a global and highly competitive socioeconomic and environmental activity in both developed and developing countries. It is a labour-intensive industry, creating skilled and unskilled jobs in the supply value chains.”
“The tourism market has shown strong growth across Africa in recent years. The UN World Tourism Organization's 2016 Highlights report found that Africa welcomed nearly 55.3 million international tourists in 2014 and sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 63 per cent of the number. In the decade from 2005 to 2016, tourism in Africa increased by about 51 per cent,” he revealed.
Dr. Bawumia referred to a recent published data by the World Bank, trends in the tourism market, which suggested a phenomenal growth in the industry over the past decade and a half, which also indicated that the most popular reason for visiting Ghana may be shifting from leisure and recreation to business and professional purposes, with increasing spending per visitor.
As a result of that, the Vice-President indicated that “tourism has a great potential to accelerate progress across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Well managed, the sector could generate quality jobs, reduce poverty and offer incentives for environmental conservation – a triple-win to help countries transition towards more inclusive and resilient economies. And tourism ranks as one of the major source of foreign exchange earnings in many developing countries.”
Present at the activity were the chairperson of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Regional Commission for Africa, who is also the Minister for Arts and Culture in Zambia and his colleague Ghanaian Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture and Creative Arts, Barbara Oteng Gyasi; Ronald Chitotela, Secretary General of the UNWTO; Zurab Pololikashvili and the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Auxillia Mnangagwa.