ECOWAS tourism authorities call for closer collaboration

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Arts (MoTCA) have called for closer collaborations with tourism authorities in the West Africa sub region for maximum returns in the sector.

Addressing dignitaries and tourism experts in the ongoing West Africa Integrated Travel (WAIT) forum in Accra, yesterday, Tourism Minister, Catherine Ablema Afeku, highlighted how the sector in 2017, had contributed globally and significantly to job creation in the sub region.

“The World Travel and tourism council in 2016, generated US$7.6 trillion constituting 10.2 percent of global GDP. It also created 292 million jobs equivalent to one in every ten jobs in the world economy. West Africa, collectively welcomes over 5 million tourists generating US$3.2 billion in revenues,” she said.

The World Travel and Tourism Council, Mrs. Afeku noted, estimates that 3.8 million jobs including 2.4 million indirect jobs can be created by the tourism industry within the sub Saharan region for the next ten years.

Mrs. Afeku however bemoaned the lack of vibrant value chain and linkages which could reduce burdens on economies within the sub region.

“By linkages, we mean integrated transport, aviation, travel and the free movement of people, goods and services within ECOWAS borders.

Meanwhile, the failure to adhere to the ECOWAS protocol on the development of tourism, which recognizes the need to establish systems that facilitates travel within West Africa remains a key challenge to the tourism industry.

But Afeku explained that adherence to the protocol could enhance effective destination marketing, and improved regional competitiveness.

“To achieve this, we need to take key lessons from other regional blocs such as East Africa and collate ourselves as a sub region to work in close cooperation with each other to boost tourism arts and culture,” she said.

However, the MD of GOTA Voyages in Benin, Mrs. Olanma Ojukwu, said corruption at the various borders for travel purposes has been one major challenge which has been discouraging tourists and travelers.

She called for a more collaborated efforts between tourism authorities in the sub region in order to curb the menace.

GTA’s CEO, Mr. Akwasi Agyeman, called on tourism authorities in West Africa to identify key areas of integration, marketing and shared best practices.

He appealed to governments of ECOWAS on the need to make policies that would promote the growth of domestic tourism in the various countries and the sub region at large.

By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe