The first ever Youth in Conference has taken place with a call on the youth of Ghana to take up the challenge of helping promote the country as a tourism hub while ensuring that conditions that make the country attractive to tourists both within and from outside are maintained.
The call which came from various eminent speakers and guests were parts of deliberations that were held at the event yesterday at the Coconut Regency Hotel, Accra. Attended by various youth groups from all over the country including, members of the Tourism Society of Ghana (TOSOGHA), students from the University of Ghana Business School and various hospitality and tourism institutions, the conference served as a platform for them to discuss issues affecting the sector while proffering solutions for them.
Held under the theme, ‘’Realizing the 2030 Agenda: the role of the youth,’’ the conference pried topics such as Sustainable Tourism for Development with specific reference to the UN’s SDGs, redefining tourism as well as exploring business opportunities within the tourism sector.
Delivering the Keynote Address, Mrs. Christine-Klock, UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana touched on the critical role the youth could play in ensuring the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. She said with 70% of the proponents of the SDGs being youth, it is important that they take it upon themselves to ensure governments and those who matter work to ensure the realization of the goals.
She was particularly happy such conference was being organized to bring the youth together to deliberate on sustainable tourism, which she said falls in line with the declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. She stressed that although tourism was a huge sector globally, that Ghana could reap huge benefits from, the issue of sustainability was crucial, saying that issues such as sanitation, education among others all need a critical look at.
Also drawing on the links between SDGs and Tourism was Geraldine Atta Sappor the reigning Miss Tourism Ghana, who gave a presentation on exploring these links. She maintained that the realization of the SDGs especially those with correlation to tourism could only be achieved if the youth are prepared to rethink the way things are done in the country. With focus on environment conservation, Miss Sappor noted that there should be a conscious effort to maintain a clean Ghana with the aim of living sustainably and responsibly as we conserve energy, be mindful of marine life and a clean and safe environment.
‘’We as the youth must rise up and take action, we should be involved in making Ghana a greener and a better place, where our children and the future generation will come and enjoy and not suffer the consequences of our actions today. We are looking to promote prosperity, partnerships and get every Ghanaian youth involve like we are doing today. Once we are able to promote sustainable tourism in our planet, we can foster peace everywhere,’’ the Miss Tourism Queen said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Development Company, Kwadwo Antwi on redefining tourism in Ghana described the sector as one of the lowest hanging fruit for economic development, therefore must be given crucial attention. He indicated that the over 1.2 billion travels that were recorded last year worldwide, showed that there exist great potential that could be tapped into to bring prosperity to individuals and societies. For this reason, Mr. Antwi hinted that the government was embarking on various initiatives and projects to fully develop the country’s tourism potential. One of such projects is the marketing of the country as the centre of the world.
According to him, the plan is to add on to the visitor experience of being at the geographic centre of the earth. He said stakeholders within the sector, including its Ministry, the Ghana Tourism Authority were working together to aggressively market Ghana to the outside world while ensuring that locals are imbibe the domestic tourism culture.
Head of Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at the St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn, USA, Damien L. Duchamp took participants through the opportunities for creation that exist in the tourism industry in Ghana. For him, the country’s unique tourism offerings should be harnessed to make it attractive for individual entrepreneurs to take interest in.
He said we have a responsibility of enhancing our attractions in order to draw more tourists to them. This, he noted, calls for education of personnel who man these places and improving quality service through capacity building and training, of which he is prepared to offer. The Youth in Tourism Conference attracted a host of other guests who spoke on various aspects of developing tourism to improve livelihoods.
They included, Mr. Tirso A.S Dos Santos – Head of UNESCO in Ghana, H.E Justin Fraser – Deputy Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Helena Ansah – Miss Tourism Ghana, UK, Akorfa Awuma – First Princess, Miss Tourism Ghana, with Dean of the Diplomatic Corp and Zimbabwe Ambassador to Ghana, H.E Pavelyn Tendai Musaka chairing the occasion.
There were interactive sessions where participants were divided into groups to solicit ideas from one another on how to improve the quality of our tourism products.
The Youth In Tourism Conference is was organized by the Miss Ghana Tourism team in collaboration with Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture with support from UN, UNESCO, GCB, Max International, the Australian High Commission, Coconut Grove Regency Hotel, TOSOGHA, and Tang Palace Hotel.
Story By : Samuel Obeng Appah