President of the Africa Tourism Research Network (ATRN), Emmanuel Frimpong, has welcomed the initiative by the ministry of tourism to invest GHC100 million to promote youth-led enterprises in the country.
According to him, it is a timely initiative by the ministry to support entrepreneurs, especially the youth, who have recently developed strong affinity for the tourism and hospitality industry. He however expressed the need for government to be meticulous in its delivery of the initiative.
“I think it’s a welcoming news for the industry because if you look at young people in the sector, gradually, a lot of them are getting interested in the tourism and hospitality sector.
“… I think there are equally more questions that we need to ask because we’ve heard some of these promises before, so we are just looking forward to getting more detailed information about how, when and where.”Emmanuel Frimpong
Touching on the due diligence government must incorporate to ensure the success of the initiative, Mr Frimpong advised the ministry to involve relevant stakeholders in the process. He noted that the private sector is a perfect example as it can provide the necessary requisite trainings for these entrepreneurs.
With this, he emphasized that it’s not a matter of just setting aside GHC100 million and then call for people to bring ideas, as there’s a lot more to it than just that.
“I think what the ministry needs to do is to work with industry players – the private sector, because some of them have structures that can help these tourism entrepreneurs. Tourism is such that you need to have some level of experience…
“So, they need to work closely with private sector and for those who are in schools, they need to also pick certain groups and nurture them via entrepreneurship hubs, so that they are trained and given resources to actually have their businesses run very well… So, the ministry needs to actually sit down with the private sector and design a program and process for this to be done well.”Emmanuel Frimpong
Expectations of government on international tourist arrivals
Commenting on government’s target of some two million international tourist arrivals by 2024, Mr Frimpong noted that he is not satisfied with government’s target. He highlighted that a lot more work must go into actually getting people to show up in the country to visit tourist attractions and not just by mere word of mouth.
“You can’t just say you want to attract people and they will come. Of course, naturally, Ghana is a place that people have interest in coming but unfortunately, most of them when they come, they get dissatisfied with a lot of things and it has to do with service.
“The service quality has been poor, and we keep talking about it and nothing is being done. The 2 million is not much, and we can do far more, but if we don’t do something about the service quality and hospitality in the tourism industry, we will keep talking about the numbers and we will not achieve it.”Emmanuel Frimpong
On the issue of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) recording 500,000 visitors in the first half of this year, out of the 1.2 million tourists targetted by the Ministry of Tourism, Mr Frimpong expressed his misgivings about the veracity of the claim. He revealed that he has a challenge with the data because the source is from the Ghana Immigration Service and the airport.
“So, when they get the figures, its usually people that arrive into the country, so we have no idea whether they are actually tourists, or they are here to do something else. So, we put everything together and say we have this number. But the numbers are not really tourist arrivals, they are just people coming and until we begin to sift out and know the number coming in for the purposes of tourism, we will continue to churn the numbers out but in real terms, they may not be tourists.”Emmanuel Frimpong