The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, has advised the tourism sector in Africa to up their game to revamp tourism on the continent.
“Let us make Africa the most important ground in the world and make it attractive to tourists. If we do that, in just a matter of years, tourism will re-bounce and it will be the best for us,” he said.
The minister was speaking at the third edition of the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge in Accra yesterday.
Dr Awal stated that plans were underway to train about 10,000 owners and operators of small and medium enterprises in the tourism sector to build their capacity and strengthen their ability to stay competitive.
He added that the government would equip the trainee SMEs with about GH¢120 million as seed capital to help them grow.
“We will grow the Ghanaian tourism sector, not just to expand the tourist space but also create jobs along the line,” the minister intimated.
The summit is being organised by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, in collaboration with Africa Tourism Partners (ATP) and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
The three-day summit, which opened last Wednesday, is on the theme: "Empowering African Youth in Tourism through innovation, education and investments in a changed world".
It is intended to expose the youth to skills development and innovation methodologies needed in leisure and business tourism, as well as Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE).
It will also serve as an exclusive gathering for innovative African youth in travel, tourism and MICE looking for partnerships, market access, mentorship and funding opportunities to present their projects to the global marketplace in order to find the necessary support.
Dr Awal observed that Africa had a very youthful population of about 64-65 per cent, “hence it cannot grow without the support of the youth”.
He, therefore, saw the need to initiate programmes to empower the youth and support them to unearth their talents and capabilities.
The minister encouraged the youth to leverage the changing market and technology to contribute their quota to the development of the continent.
“We want young people to be innovation-driven entrepreneurs. If you are not efficient, you cannot drive this continent,” he noted, adding: “Be passionate, obsessive, creative and innovative.”
The Regional Director for Africa, UNWTO, Ms Elcia Grandcourt, noted that tourism was one of the fastest growing and most resilient socio-economic sector.
“Tourism is accounting for seven per cent of global chain and generating millions of jobs directly and indirectly,” she said.
Ms Grandcourt added that tourism was an easy-access sector for SMEs and the self-employed.
“The role of tourism in rural development is more relevant than ever. Therefore, capacity building and training will be paramount if we are to empower and cultivate the talent of the next generation of enthusiastic professionals who will be required to identify impactful and disruptive ideas and solutions in order to tackle the problems that the world is currently facing,” she added.
Ms Grandcourt further urged individuals in the tourism sector to integrate technology into the tourism industry for the advancement and progress of the sector.