Ghana will join the rest of the world on September 27 to mark the World Tourism Day to highlight the need for more and better-targeted investments for people, for planet and for prosperity. Established in 1980 by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Day heralds the socio-economic, political, and cultural importance of Tourism to national and international economies through Gross Domestic Product growth, jobs, and employment creation. The purpose of World Tourism Day is to promote tourism as a means of fostering cultural understanding, economic development, and international cooperation. Various activities and events are organized on World Tourism Day by governments, tourism organizations, and businesses around the world. These activities can include conferences, workshops, seminars, cultural performances, exhibitions, and more. The day serves as an opportunity to highlight the significance of tourism in generating income, creating jobs, and supporting local communities, as well as encouraging responsible and sustainable tourism practices. The aim of this special day is to promote dialogue and collaboration among various stakeholders in the tourism sector, including governments, businesses, NGOs, and travelers, to ensure that tourism contributes positively to global development. The official ‘International’ World Tourism Day is held in a World Tourism Organisation (WTO) designated country with participation from the rest of the world. This year’s Day would be held in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. Each year, the UNWTO selects a specific theme for the celebration that reflects current trends, challenges, or opportunities in the tourism industry. Themes for World Tourism Day range from subjects like sustainable tourism, community engagement, cultural heritage preservation, innovation in tourism, among others. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Tourism and Green Investments.’ The UNWTO believes that more investments in tourism would help the industry grow in the future. It hopes that the Day would encourage smart investments that would help people and the environment. According to the UNWTO, there is the need for new and creative ideas for investment in the tourism industry. For World Tourism Day in 2023, the UNWTO encourages governments, banks, development organizations, and private businesses to work together and create new and innovative plans for investing in tourism. As the United Nations specialized agency responsible for sustainable tourism, the UNWTO is guiding the global sector towards inclusive recovery and growth as well as ensuring appropriate governance among communities, minorities, and the youth. ‘The UNWTO, therefore, invites its Member States and Affiliates to celebrate tourism’s unique ability to ensure that nobody is left behind as the world begins to open again and looks to the future.’ For World Tourism Day 2023, UNWTO highlights the need for more and better-targeted investments for people, for planet and for prosperity. Now is the time for new and innovative solutions, not just traditional investments that promote and underpin economic growth and productivity. It will be a call to action to the international community, governments, multilateral financial institutions, development partners and private sector investors to unite around a new tourism investment strategy. The international observance day for tourism would highlight the vital need to deliver investment for projects that work for People (by investing in education and skills), Planet (by investing in sustainable infrastructure and accelerating green transformation) and Prosperity (by investing in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship). In Ghana, the day would be celebrated in Ada and Sege, in the Greater Accra Region, with series of activities lined up by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) to commemorate it. Mr Kofi Attah Kakra Kusi, Deputy Head, Corporate Affairs, GTA said tourism played a vital role in Ghana’s economy, contributing to employment generation, foreign exchange earnings, and cultural exchange. However, there was the need to address the challenges posed by unsustainable practices that could harm the natural environment, exploit local communities, and threaten the cultural heritage. He said the theme for the celebration underscored the need for a holistic approach to tourism that prioritizes in investing in people, planet and prosperity. He said sustainable tourism required sustainable investments, however, due to the pandemic, announced foreign investment in the tourism sector fell from US$48.5 billion in 2019 to just US$12.6 billion in 2020. ‘This sudden and unexpected drop has been felt at all levels of the sector and pressed pause on projects designed to advance tourism’s climate action efforts and build more resilience. Additionally, in 2020 and 2021, job creation in the tourism sector fell by 70%, a direct consequence of falling investment levels.’ One investment area that has remained strong, however, is investment in tourism start-ups and technology, highlighting the resilience of the startup ecosystem. Mr Kusi noted that more, and better-targeted, investment was therefore required to enable tourism to deliver on its massive potential to provide opportunities for people, to build resilient economies, to accelerate climate action and greater sustainability for the planet and deliver inclusive prosperity around the pillars of innovation and entrepreneurship. He said the UNWTO has identified investments as a key priority for the sector, serving as the bridge between its Member States, destinations, businesses and investors, culminating in World Tourism Day 2023. Mr Kusi said, in Ghana, the Ministry of Tourism Arta and Culture and the GTA have outlined various programmes for the commemoration of the day, in line with the global theme, including radio – TV discussions on the theme, organization of tours to various sites across the country, regional celebrations, sensitization talk on domestic tourism (promotion and marketing) to selected schools. There would also be a health walk, tree planting exercise, and grand durbar of Chiefs. ‘By embracing the theme of ‘Investing in People, Planet, and Prosperity,’ Ghana is poised to lead the way in sustainable tourism development. World Tourism Day 2023 provides us with an opportunity to showcase our commitment to responsible tourism practices, empower local communities, preserve our natural and cultural heritage, and pave the way for a prosperous and sustainable future for Ghana’s tourism industry. Together, let us invest in people, protect our planet, and ensure shared prosperity for all.’

Source: Ghana News Agency

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