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Tourism is big business- Mahamapdf print preview print preview
18/08/2015Page 1 of 1
 



President John Mahama has challenged African brand experts to come out with innovative ways of packaging and selling Africa to the world.

The perception that Africa is a continent of diseases, poverty and conflict, he says, must change.

"Africa is not one country, it is 54 different countries! Africa is the fastest growing continent in terms of population. Six (6) African countries are among the top ten fastest growing economies of the world. There are more mobile subscribers in Africa than Europe and America combined. And there are many more unique selling points of this continent that we can package for the world. If we package Africa, the international will respond."

President Mahama who was opening a 3-day United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Conference on Enhancing Brand Africa to foster Tourism Development, acknowledged that tourism is the vehicle to propel the drive towards changing the negative perception of Africa.

Tourism is Ghana's 4th foreign exchange earner, contributing about 4.7% to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and according to President Mahama government will continue to invest in the tourism sector to enhance national development.

​"​We are investing in our tourism assets. The completion of the Sawla- Fufulso Road in the Northern Region of Ghana has resulted in a significant increase in tourist visits to the Mole National Park.​ We aim to diversify our tourist assets by developing our beach fronts, marina’s, entertainment and amusement centres.​"


See below for the President's full speech

Thank you, and welcome to Accra, the capital of the world’s friendliest country.

We are happy to be hosting what is an important gathering like this, even if it is coming a year late, as a result of a health crisis that though did not affect Ghana, was packaged and sold to the world as though the entire Africa were one country.

Your Excellency Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the U.N.T.W.O

Representative of the African Union

Ministers of Tourism of Africa

Travel, Tourism and Culture Consultants, Marketers and Practitioners

Traditional leaders

Media Practitioners

Ladies and gentlemen

What has to be discussed at this three-day conference is very well cutout, and we all would look forward to your final communiqué on Wednesday.

My presence here this morning is to emphasize the importance Africa places on the potential of travel and tourism to accelerate the development of our economies.

Tourism for us in Ghana is a major foreign exchange earner, contributing today, 4.7% of our GDP. Through a number of strategies, Ghana has achieved the target of 1 million tourist arrivals, and we are working to improve on the arrivals and revenue from tourism.

Tourism currently stands as the 4th largest contributor of revenue to the national economy after cocoa, gold and oil & gas.

We continue to aggressively market Ghana at key international forums, and enhance our engagement with local and international media partners to promote our tourist attractions.

Ghana has many strong brand assets. It is considered a model of democracy, peace and security in Africa.

Ghana is a good place to do business and is currently seen as the investment gateway to West Africa. Ghana also has the friendliest people.

We are investing in our tourism assets. The completion of the Sawla- Fufulso Road in the Northern Region of Ghana has resulted in a significant increase in tourist visits to the Mole National Park.

We aim to diversify our tourist assets by developing our beach fronts, marina’s, entertainment and amusement centres.

Tourism is big business. Tourism is good business.

But tourism is all about good attractions, good service and good destinations just as much as it is about how much knowledge potential tourists have about the destination and the positive experience they expect to get from their trip.

As has been confirmed by the UNWTO itself, the growth of international tourist arrivals to Africa plummeted from an annual rate of 5% to 2% in 2014.

That significant fall has been attributed to the manner in which the Ebola outbreak that affected a few countries on our continent was packaged by the international media and sold to the world.

In many cases it was made to appear as a continent-wide outbreak. This resulted in several countries issuing travel alerts to their citizens to avoid any non-essential travel to Africa.

This was most unfair to Africa. Airport arrivals dipped sharply. In Ghana, we estimate there was a reduction of about 30% in airport arrivals for 2014.

The World Bank estimates that non-affected West African countries had at least 1% shaved off their expected GDP growth for 2014.

For many years the narrative of Africa has been negative. This has promoted in the mindset of many that the continent is a backward, underdeveloped, disease-ridden jungle, where if people are not starving, then they are busy killing each other in tribal wars or human sacrifices.

Africa has great potential. Africa has a lot going for it- Nature, culture, animals, great food and friendly people.

Our continent has a lot of positive selling points.

We must change this narrative. Our professional brand experts must explore as many innovative ways to sell Africa to the world. We must change the negative perception that has been built over the years.

Africa is not one country, it is 54 different countries! Africa is the fastest growing continent in terms of population.

Six (6) African countries are among the top ten fastest growing economies of the world. There are more mobile subscribers in Africa than Europe and America combined.

And there are many more unique selling points of this continent that we can package for the world. If we package Africa, the international will respond. It is happening already with the CNN, BBC, etc.

So, I have come here to challenge the African marketing and media experts, Travel Consultants and the Tourism Ministers meeting here to consider the issues as they are, and come out with workable strategies on how best to change the narrative on and about the continent.

Africa has the capacity to build a strong image for itself. We have the skills and creative minds, and I am happy that the conference brings together all these groups to share ideas.

Africa is already a strong brand with natural environments for increased tourism. The key challenges as I have stated are also known.

Let’s share the ideas we have candidly, and bring to the fore why and how our individual country efforts failed.

Welcome once again, enjoy the beauty of our city and the other regions you will be visiting and may the fresh and serene Accra be the beginning of the end of the challenges we have encountered over the years in branding Africa positively.

Thank you and May God Bless us all.
 
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