Sea defence project, loss of beaches -Tourism stakeholders express worry

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo & Edith Mensah

Stakeholders in the tourism industry have called for a conscious effort to maximise the use of the country's beaches to promote tourism in spite of rising sea levels and the construction of sea defence walls.

They observed that the construction of sea defence structures along the beach to protect the shores must be designed with the promotion of tourism in mind.

The participants, including assemblymen and fishermen, also called for more stringent measures to check sand winning, open defecation and other negative environmental practices that adversely affected the beaches.

These came up at a stakeholder engagement on the model beaches project being undertaken by the Ghana Tourism Authority and Ghana Cares (Obantanpa) project on the work theme : “Save the Beaches’’.

Project

Under the project, four model beaches at coastal communities including Elmina, Axim Sakumono and Labadi will be established.

The facilitator of the workshop, Mr Malcolm Frazier Appeadu, said it was time to build the beaches into tourism facilities worthy of raking in more revenue for the country with the kind of beach resources available.

He said it was expected that more local and international tourists would be attracted to the beaches to increase tourism earnings.

The Municipal Chief Executive for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem, Mr Solomon Ebo Appiah, indicated that the municipality would enforce strict by-laws to counter negative environmental practices along the beaches.

Training programme

In another development, the GTA has started a training programme for stakeholders in the hospitality and tourism business in the Central Region.

The training programme, which is part of the government's 'Ghana Cares (Obaatanpa)' effort, will educate players in the industry on industry best sector skills revitalisation, address the low quality of tourism assets, enhance marketing and branding of tourism facilities, consumer behaviour and digital marketing.

About 10,000 persons in the sector are expected to undergo the training nationwide.

The Central Regional Director of GTA, Mr Kwame Gyasi, stated that the training programme was vital because players in the industry required new skills and knowledge to ensure that quality service delivery and regulations were followed in the industry.

He stated that the Central Region, in particular, needed to step up its efforts to promote the industry and that training was essential to achieving that.

"We are not able to sell the region because most persons have very little capacity on what they do in terms of packaging and branding," he said.

Branding

Speaking at the training, a customer service consultant, Mr Apaloo Lolo, urged all actors in the industry's value chain to enhance their customer relationships.

He bemoaned the sector's poor patronage, adding that most of its employees were unconcerned about client happiness.

In order to satisfy clients with the content of their services, he stressed the significance of the tourism and hospitality industry rebranding its product and increasing customer service satisfaction.

Digital marketing

One of the resource persons for the session, Mr Dredd Azalaety, said it was time for the industry to take its products to the internet in order to gain the requisite exposure to the worldwide population.

He stated that the industry should not overlook digital channels as a source of leads and conversions because they had the potential to provide the necessary exposure to the global market.

He advised small business stakeholders to explore the prospects of global marketplace online and reap the benefits of combining traditional and digital marketing.

"You may reach a global audience with digital marketing tactics that are cost-effective and quantifiable," he said.

In an interview, some of the attendees urged stakeholders to make the training a regular event to help them develop their capacity.

They said holding the meeting on a regular basis would improve their capacity and talents to enable them to carry out their mandate effectively.

A participant, Ms Deborah Nyame, said "we will be able to take advantage of that opportunity to enhance our talents, if the training is done at least once a year."