This year, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) chose to celebrate World Tourism Day, Sept. 27, in Ghana, and Edward Addo, Grenfell’s tourism studies program chair, was there.
Dr. Addo, who hails from Ghana, was invited to participate in the celebration which included exhibitions, cultural performances, gastronomy fair, lectures/speeches, think-tank sessions and a press conference. The theme of the events was “Celebrating Tourism Diversity.”
“The celebration began on Sept. 21, the birthday of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana,” said Dr. Addo. “The day has been adopted by the African Union as AU Day. Coincidentally, the AU, Ghana and the rest of the world celebrated Dr. Nkrumah’s centenary anniversary this year.”
Dr. Addo was invited by the Ghana Tourist Board and Ministry of Tourism to deliver a keynote speech titled International Conference Proceedings and Lectures on Ghana’s Tourism Industry: Responses to Institutional Themes in a Global Context. His address highlighted papers he has presented at international conferences in Leeds, York and Blackpool in the United Kingdom, Riga in Latvia, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Rhodes Island in Greece and Dublin in Ireland as well as course lectures given in Canada and USA on Ghana’s tourism industry.
“The presentation highlighted international participation in tourism events,” said Dr. Addo. “I wanted to share these opportunities with Ghana, to show how tourism brings people and nations together for business and pleasure.”
Dr. Addo was also Ghana’s representative on a panel to debate on the topic “Tourism Strengthening the Ties between Nations.” Other members of the debate panel included Dho Young-shim, chairperson, board of directors, UNWTO STEP Foundation; Ousmane Ndiaye, UNWTO regional representative for Africa; Anita Mendiratta, managing director, CACHET Consulting/lead consultant; Jean-Claude Baumgarten, president and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and CNN Task Group. The keynote address for the session was delivered by Juliana Azuma Mensah, Ghana’s minister of tourism. The moderator for the session was Geoffrey Lipman, assistant secretary-general and spokesperson, UNWTO.
“This was an excellent opportunity to share our views on the global tourism industry,” said Dr. Addo, adding that he references many of these officials in his courses, so it would be interesting for his students to see photos of him adjacent to officials from the leading tourism organizations in the world. “UNWTO is the most widely recognized international organization in the travel and tourism industry and is the only intergovernmental organization that serves as a global forum for tourism policy and issues.”
His contribution during the panel discussion shed light on a number of factors that influence Ghana’s tourism industry. For instance, the country has an incredibly rich and diverse culture, owing to the influx of Europeans from seven different countries, beginning in the late 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1471. They were followed by Swedes, Danes, Dutch, English, French and Germans. In 1874 Ghana, then called the Gold Coast, was colonized by England, and did not win its independence until March 6, 1957.
“This diversity is an opportunity to further explore these European countries traded and settled in Ghana,” said Dr. Addo. “Celebrating diversity – the theme of the conference – that’s what this is about. In the future I would like to go to these countries to find out more about the European heritage we have in Ghana.”
Dr. Addo also took the opportunity to highlight Ghana’s traditional and cultural practices – its music, food, textiles and festivals. Ghana has many natural resources as well; the country is rich in minerals such as gold, bauxite, diamond, iron and manganese. In recent years, large oil deposits have been discovered in Ghana’s territorial waters.
“Ghana is blessed,” he said. “Unfortunately, its problems, since the dawn of independence, have been mainly political instability and mismanagement of public resources. Since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1992, however, the country has been politically stable and economically progressive. Domestic tourism has been promoted as a vehicle for poverty reduction. International tourist arrivals and expenditures have increased over the years.”
He cited several core values that should be considered in order to strengthen ties between nations, such as valuing the diversity of cultures of different countries and valuing local communities and how national tourism should be based on community values. Dr. Addo noted that international and multinational corporations, such as hotels, car rental companies and airlines, often contribute to “capital flight” – resources are not kept in developing countries but rather are siphoned into developed countries. Another issue facing developing countries such as Ghana is that of stringent travel policies – a lack of government policies that support international travel even on the African continent. There are also travel policies that favor tourists from developed countries in terms of visa acquisition and duration of travel.
“Visa officials working in consulates and embassies of developed countries tend to believe that people from developing countries would abuse tourist visas by not returning home,” said Dr. Addo. “There are strict visa requirements that people must meet before they are allowed to enter other countries on travel visas. It’s a big problem – a barrier.”
Through the connections he has forged with international tourism officials through this and other international opportunities, Dr. Addo hopes to build bridges between Ghana and the developed world.
“We need to share tourism education to inform people about trends and developments,” he said, adding that he is currently trying to spread the word in Ghana and other countries in which he has presented his papers about Grenfell’s tourism studies program.
“We have an opportunity to share the expertise we have in the tourism program at Grenfell and also enhance the academic and international reputation of Memorial University and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said. “Many Ghanaians who have the prerequisite academic qualifications have expressed interest in the program; the problem, however, is how to meet visa requirements to get here.”
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