The West Africa Tourism Organization (WATO) and the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) have ended the maiden West African Integrated Travel, WAIT, forum in Accra where they resolved to undertake major advocacy and crusade activities towards ensuring that tourism authorities and governments in ECOWAS commit to promoting free movement of tourists and travelers within the sub region for tourism purposes.
Major topics and discussions held at the two-day event, which began on March 20-21 include, bridging the gap and ensuring an integrated cross border travel regime among ECOWAS states and how the barriers could be surmounted as a catalyst for tourism development.
In a statement at the opening ceremony, Ola Wright, CEO, West Africa Tourism Organization, explained that it was important for countries within the sub region to integrate with a common goal to promote and package tourism products across the globe.
She maintained that hindrances to tourism within West Africa’s borders only rob the sub region of the required benefits that the industry brings to the various countries in the region.
“Right from Cape Verde through to Nigeria and Cameroon, massive tourism potentials are evident and it would only take strong advocacy for tourism authorities to work together to promote joint policy reforms to boost the sector,” Wright said.
The WAIT forum, she indicated, is the process of promoting joint marketing efforts among the various tourism authorities in ECOWAS to ease travelling for tourism purposes.
GTA’s CEO, Mr. Akwasi Agyeman, emphasized the need to create a West Africa regional bloc for travel and tourism to be in line with countries in East and Southern Africa.
“There is the urgent need to adopt a West African tourism brand, with a single tourism calendar to effectively promote the sub region,” Mr. Agyeman maintained.
He disclosed that the GTA and WATO, will re-echo some of the suggestions and opinions at the WAIT forum in the upcoming West Africa Travel Forum in Abuja, Nigeria in June this year.
Some dignitaries and resource persons, who were at the WAIT forum, include, Ghana’s Minister of Tourism, Mrs. Catherine Afeku, H.E P.T Musaka, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Zimbabwean Ambassador to Ghana, Olanma Ojukwu, CEO, GOTA Voyages Benin, Efotobo Awhana, Avantgarde Tours, Nigeria among others.
By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe