At an event attended by some of the biggest players of African tourism, speaker after speaker joined in the clarion call of promoting closer ties among individual countries in order to advance the sector.
First to make the call was a connoisseur of Africa travel industry, Ikechi Uko who having dabbled in the travel industry for a long time shared his experience among the gathering at the plush Golden Tulip Hotel. According to him, the West Africa region could achieve more in achieve more in tourism if countries were working together. He said although it might seem right for countries to compete to outdo each other in terms of selling their tourism products, partnerships remained the best way to maximize the opportunities within the industry.
Citing the East African example, he stated that East Africa Tourism Platform, which comprises, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, has been of tremendous benefit to the growth of tourism among the respective countries. ‘’No matter how big you are, you cannot do it alone as an individual country, because together, we can do and achieve more for our tourism industry,’’ he said. He was full of praise for Ghana full being the first country in West Africa to issue visa-on-arrival and hoped other countries will follow soon.
In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr. Akwasi Agyemang stated that partnerships were one of the things his outfit were going to do to bring the needed growth to local tourism industry. He identified quality of service, strategic investment as the other areas of focus and assured the gathering of working closely with them to facelift the sector. Acknowledging the work of the Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), he noted that their activities have helped to complement the effort of GTA and other stakeholders and congratulated them for launch of the new website.
The launch, which also doubled as a networking event brought together some of the top industry players which were mostly made up of tour operators and also, the diplomatic corps with representations from, Angola, Namibia, Cuba, South Africa among others.
The South Africa High Commissioner to Ghana, Her Excellency Lulu Xingwana indicated that her country was prepared to work with countries and regional bodies such as ECOWAS to ensure that the South Africa tourism success is replicated in other parts of Africa. She said it was imperative that countries ‘support and learn from each other.’
H.E. Xingwana indicated that to demonstrate the willingness to share their experience and encourage partnerships, a tourism has been set up in Nigeria to cater for the West Africa region and urged countries to take advantage of its existence. She stated that the Commission has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with TOUGHA, which has led to the facilitation of tours to many parts of South Africa, with her outfit enjoying similar gesture in Ghana.
Launching the website, the Mawerehene of the Ashanti Kingdom, Baffour Hyeaman Brantuo IV who represented the King – Patron of TOUGHA- welcomed the call for collaboration and indicated that the union has a significant role to play in this regard. He said Ghana abounds with beautiful sites that ought to be seen and explored by both citizens and the outside world and that Ashanti Kingdom will support the work of TOUGHA to consolidate the gains made so far.
The website, www.touroperatorsghana.com allows visitors to access a compendium of information about the country’s tourism sector, including places to visit, what to do with very interactive features that add to the user experience. President of TOUGHA, Mrs. Nancy Sam said the site is to allow users to seamlessly access the country’s tourism with just a click of a button. She noted that the new website is one of the many things the Union was doing to promote businesses within the sector. TOUGHA is a member-driven union that offers inbound and outbound tourism services of the highest level of quality in the tourism industry.