The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, has entreated the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to help mobilise COVID-19 vaccines to support efforts by member countries to contain the spread of the virus.
He said as the umbrella body of tourism promotion globally, the UNWTO was in a better position to lobby developed nations to contribute appreciable quantities of the vaccines to support especially developing countries as part of the global vaccination drive.
According to the minister, developing countries had challenges accessing the vaccines due to their unavailability, coupled with their high cost, hence the need for the UNWTO to intervene.
Dr Awal was speaking at the 41st World Tourism Day celebration in Abidjan, Cote d’lvoire, last Monday on the theme: “Tourism for inclusive growth”.
The event was attended by Tourism ministers and other key stakeholders in the sector from countries such as The Gambia, Spain, Mali, Niger, Tanzania, Togo and DR Congo.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on livelihoods and jobs around the globe and it is time nations supported one another to minimise the effect of the pandemic and stimulate economic growth,” Dr Awal said.
He added that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was committed to ensuring that 20 million people were vaccinated against the virus by the close of this year, including the enforcement of COVID-19 protocols.
‘Beyond the Return’ project
Touching on the ‘Beyond the Return’ project, the minister urged Africans in the Diaspora to always visit Ghana and connect to their roots.
“Ghana is one of the most peaceful countries in Africa, with a favourable investment climate and proactive leadership,” Dr Awal said.
Effect of pandemic
The Prime Minister of Cote d’lvoire, Mr Patrick Jerome Achi, said the pandemic had had a devastating effect on the global economy, including Cote d’lvoire’s.
According to him, international tourist arrivals had reduced by over 65 per cent, thereby affecting that country’s revenue generation and job creation.
He, therefore, called on nations to work together to defeat the virus and ensure the revitalisation of the tourism sector.
For his part, the Secretary-General of the UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, said to achieve inclusiveness, there was the need for political and economic commitment to invest in people and places.
He explained ‘inclusive’ to mean that anyone who had a stake in tourism should also have a say in the sector’s future.
He expressed appreciation for the high turnout of ministerial representation at the event, saying it was a record for any official World Tourism Day celebration attendance.
“This is very encouraging and confirms that the need for an inclusive policy is a shared priority in our sector,” he added.
For his part, the Minister of Tourism and Leisure of Cote d'Ivoire, Mr Siandou Fofana, stressed the need for African countries in particular to remove barriers that hindered travelling within the continent.
That, he said, would not only enhance trade and investment on the continent but also lead to the growth of tourism.
He expressed appreciation to the UNWTO for choosing Cote d'Ivoire to host this year’s celebration.