Mr Charles Buabin, Tema Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority has expressed high expectations for the significant growth of domestic tourism in the country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic which had affected the industry negatively.
He said the impact of COVID-19 on tourism was expected to cost the global economy US$4 trillion while drastically reducing jobs and employment numbers, domestic and foreign tourists’ receipts, and revenue mobilisation for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.
The Regional Director was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Tema ahead of World Tourism Day slated for September 27 on the theme: “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”.
Mr Buabin said, the Ghanaian destination raked in US$3.3 billion with a total of 1.3 million tourists’ arrivals by the end of 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic had reduced the gains made by two/thirds in 2020 and depressed the tourism value chain indicators.
In spite of that, he said changing the fortunes in the tourism sector was critical than ever before since the gains of the Travel and Tourism enterprise have been eroded by COVID-29 just within a year.
Thus, he said the tourism inclusive growth agenda, as proposed by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, was relevant and meaningful in getting the industry back on track.
He said for Ghana to recover from the pandemic shocks, there was the need to increase domestic vaccination drive and to vaccinate two/thirds of the Ghanaian population for the development of “herd” immunity.
The Regional Director said since the Travel and Tourism industry could not return to pre-COVID-19 arrival levels until 2023 or later according to expert projections, domestic and regional tourism drive presented the only opportunity and a magic wand to revolutionize and increase visitor numbers at Ghanaian attractions.
Mr Buabin said though domestic tourism statistics dropped from about 600,000 visitors in 2019 to about 200,000 in 2020, the expectations, depending on the current enthusiasm of Ghanaians to visit their country’s tourist sites, were that general visitations would increase to reduce the gap created by global travel restrictions.
He said: “The Tourism industry with its pro-poor characterization ensures income redistribution for inclusive growth.”
He explained that the unique capability could be enhanced through collective participation in tourism investment and financing to improve the resilience of the sector and take everyone on board.
He added that training for informal tourism practitioners was necessary for inclusive growth since service delivery was largely provided by the tourism private sector.
Mr Buabin said as a marketing and promotional tool and policy measure to revitalize the Ghanaian destination, the launch of the campaign – “Experience Ghana, Share Ghana” in June this year by the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, was a commendable initiative.
“It is to build on the current ‘See, Eat, Wear, and Feel Ghana’ and is intended to accelerate the pace of tourism through a renewed focus on domestic visitations by the people living in Ghana,” he said.
He said the introduction of a City Bus Tour in Accra and Kumasi is meant to revive interest in domestic tourism.