The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has called on the state to empower local government and traditional authorities to optimise untapped opportunities in their jurisdictions.
According to the UNDP, this would help improve environmental conservation in the country, to attract tourists.
The UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Dr Angela Lusigi, made the call on Tuesday, in Accra, when Ghana joined the world to commemorate World Tourism Day (WTD).
The day which is marked every year on September 27, was commemorated on the theme “Rethinking tourism”.
According to Dr Lusigi, “acknowledging the role of the community in stewardship of tourist resources, including natural landscape and cultural sites reinforces a sense of pride in the community and helps to ensure more sustainable land use practices.”
She stated that it was time government and tourism stakeholders moved away from externally driven initiatives towards co-creating with local actors to develop tourism products and services.
Dr Lusigi said that there was a need to go beyond community engagement to supporting community driven initiatives such as cottage industries like the Kente weavers, jewellery makers, potters and sculptors.
She stated that Africa’s rich arts and culture was unique and should be preserved to be shared with the world.
“The development of cultural tourism products and services based on Africa’s diversity in film, music, dance, festivals, traditional sports and celebrations is a great opportunity to engage domestic tourists and those from other African countries,” Dr Lusigi noted.
She said using technology and digital media to promote cultural tourism could also help to keep Africa’s culture alive for generations to come.
Dr Lusigi said local communities who were custodians of natural wealth and culture have failed to benefit from tourism, because they were not equipped to engage the tourism industry as workers or suppliers.
She said conflicts between wildlife conservationists and local communities could not make current tourism model sustainable.
Dr Lusigi said tourism development offers a significant opportunity to transform economies and create sustainable livelihoods.
She said that according to tourism sector experts, regions with higher domestic and intraregional demand were more resilient and bound to recover faster from crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is time to focus more on the domestic and regional tourism market as an engine of development. This will help to reverse the trend in most African countries where domestic tourism has been ignored in favour of international tourism that is susceptible to global disruptions,” Dr Lusigi said.
BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU