The 2019 Youth in Tourism Conference was held yesterday with participants charged to do more in ensuring that ocean environment is rid of filth.
This has been identified as not just helpful to the marine environment but also the protection of endangered aquatic species such sea turtles.
Beyond that is the adverse effect filthy beaches have on the country’s tourism. “Litter and pollution will not attract tourists to our shores; nobody wants to visit a dirty house, nobody wants to sleep in a dirty house or swim in a river that is full of litter,” said Her Excellency Lulu Xingwana, South Africa’s Ambassador to Ghana who admonished participants, especially the youth to take the issue of maintaining clean sanitation at the beach seriously.
Most importantly, she noted was the avenue such endeavours creates for youth employment. Citing her country as an example, she said various youth and women groups were engaged in maintaining what is called “Blue Flag” beaches which draw in thousands of visitors all year round by their sheer cleanliness and provides income and livelihood for the women and the youth engaged in it. This, she said, could be replicated in Ghana especially considering the enormous benefit the tourism industry has in transforming a country’s economy.
In his keynote address, Mr. Charles Abugre, a former Director at the United Nations Development Programme, said it is a collective responsibility of government and citizens to work to eliminate plastics that continue to put the health of the environment in danger. According to him, government must resort to an all-inclusive approach such as banning single-use plastics, recycling, improving the quality of tap water and stepping up education of citizens on the need to reduce plastic waste.
On improving the quality of tap water for example, the former UNDP Africa Regional Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign project, opined that because the quality of tap water had deteriorated over the years many people feel it is unsafe for consumption, thereby resorting to sachet and bottled water which pollute the environment after people are done drinking the water and discard the plastic containers.
He decried the excessive supply of plastics in the system and mentioned that people should be encouraged to reuse their plastics, while domestic, commercial and industrial recycling mechanisms ought to be adopted to salvage the environment.
A member of the Miss Tourism Ghana organization and Events Ambassador at Max International Ghana Makafui Seshie in her presentation painted a macabre picture of the dangers plastic and other wastes are posing to marine life. This she noted was a result of humans’ seeming insensitivity to the environment and water bodies. She therefore urged the gathering to desist from actions that threaten to destroy the environment; especially the marine area which is of great value to human’s existence.
Chairperson for the occasion Ruvimbo Katiyo, in her remarks averred that one way of combating environmental pollution is for us to be each other’s keeper when it comes to waste disposal. She said as young people, the onus lies on the youth to act and behave right and nudge others to do so towards the environment.
There were presentations by various speakers on different aspects of the theme; “Realizing the 2030 Agenda: Combating Marine Litter – Create Tourism,” including Cordie Aziz of Environment360, Princess Gyamfi, Second Princess - Miss Tourism Ghana 2018 amongst others.
The 2019 Youth in Tourism Conference brought together participants from academia, environmental sustainability groups, students, Women in Business and Tourism, the media and a host of others. A professor of Hospitality Management at St. Joseph’s College, in the US, Damien DuChamp moderated a panel discussion on battling marine litter and tourism promotion. He also facilitated the group and open forum discussions where groups were asked to present tourism entrepreneurship ideas.
The annual Youth in Tourism Conference is an initiative of the Miss Tourism Ghana organisation and presents youth the opportunity to dialogue on issues affecting the tourism sector. It has become a platform for them to also come up with ideas and suggestions that are beneficial to growth of the industry.
By: Samuel Obeng Appah