Mr Akwesi Agyemang, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, has underscored the importance of countries in West African to collaborate as one regional block to market their tourism destinations.
He said: “looking at global trends, it is imperative that we as West Africans find a way to deepen our collaboration and network if we want to be seen as a competitive regional block.”
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, at the maiden, West African Integrated Travel (WAIT) Forum, in Accra, he noted that despite the challenges faced by West African countries, in promoting their various destinations, it was important to find ways of marketing themselves.
He said some of the challenges include, visa, transportation, operators not working together, issues of training to build the capacity of players in the industry, customer service, among others.
“We have to market our various destinations, but if the boarders are not cleared and there are challenges of transportation, it would be difficult to do so. We need to open up our skies in terms of regional travels and make it affordable, so that the average person can afford to travel within West Africa.”
Mr Agyemang said the forum had come at the right time, as it would help the region to begin the process that would look at the issue of tourism and travel integration within West Africa.
He added that the major objective for bringing all the key players together under the umbrella of WAIT is to start the process of marketing ourselves together as one regional block.
“We are also here to get a better understanding of some of the key challenges in our sector, and how they can be addressed, adding that some of them are private sector led challenges that we think the private sector can deal with, but most of them need policy reforms.”
He noted that, it was their firm belief that the forum had achieved its purpose, and some reforms that have come out of their deliberation, which they were going to pursue aggressively and work with ECOWAS, UNWTO, and WTTC.