The pioneering batch of the Executive Masters in Tourism Management programme last Saturday Graduated from the University of Cape Coast during its 49th Congregation for the School of Graduate Studies.
The 12-course programme is delivered over a year on modular basis and is targeted at middle to upper level practitioners in the tourism and hospitality industry who have some level of experience already in managerial position.
According to Professor Kwaku Adutwum Ayim Boakye, Department Head of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the university, the programme emanated from a request which culminated in a memorandum of understanding between the University and the Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA). ‘’ So at their behest we designed a programme which was already in existence to suit their needs. And again, it was designed for industry executives who are heading to the top in terms of their career and it is also for businessmen, public servants and so forth.’’
A total of nine students made up the first batch and comprised top level industry persons like Ace Broadcaster and CEO of Kaya Management Services, Gilbert Abeiku ‘’Santana’’ Aggrey, Director of Marketing at the Ghana Tourism Authority, Benjamin Anane-Nsiah and Nancy Quartey who is the President of TOUGHA.
Professor Boakye said the programme had been tailored to fill the manpower gap that the industry needs. ‘’ In general, the competitiveness of a destination does not just rest in the uniqueness of the attraction or facility; it is the manpower and the manpower gap is what is truly lacking in Ghana. So the department took it upon itself to start training people particularly in the middle to upper executive positions who are every day decision-makers in the tourism and hospitality industries and can then influence the trend of the industry by their knowledge,’’ he said.
The programme is couched to give hands-on training in various strategic areas including, human resource management, marketing, statistics, research and according to the Professor ‘’it even begins with an expose on the principles and practice of tourism.
‘’Try it as it may sound it appears that we really don’t know even who a tourist is and those of us in the science of it would want to distinguish between a tourist and different types of travellers. Although the tourist is a traveller, the tourist performs functions different from the traditional traveller that has implications for their behavior, their activities at the destination, their consumption patterns and so on and so forth.
So through the programme, we equip them with various skills; there is a course called computer applications for example, where they are taught to possibly work on their own websites, and put their presence out there. We also have a course – Financial Management – and so on,’’ he added.
One of the graduates, Abeiku Santana, indicated that the programme has equipped him with the relevant professional skills needed for the corporate world. He maintained that such programmes are needed to build the capacity of industry players in order to apply the knowledge acquired in addressing the challenges in the sector and also ensuring best practices. According to the Tourism Ambassador, education plays a critical role in maintaining high standards that are needed to develop the tourism and the hospitality industry. ‘’If you go to the tourist destinations in other parts of Africa they have been trained and it is not about the beauty and the magnificent nature of your attraction; the personnel have been well trained and educated to give quality service.’’
For the Ace Broadcaster, the new milestone will spur him on to do more for the industry. ‘’On this occasion of the historic achievement, being one of the first graduates in Ghana with a Master’s Degree in Tourism Management and thanks to the University of Cape Coast, the journey has come to a successful completion but the work begins from today; we are already doing the work but we are going to do more,’’ he stressed.