Ghana’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal has stated that the government intends to train 30,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism sector in the next three years.
According to him, small businesses are unable to survive and ensure sustainability when founders suffer demise. “In Africa, 90% of businesses are all SMEs. But there is a challenge; only 50% of the tourism SMEs survive after the demise of their founders and it is not the best”, he posited.
The Minister in his address on the 2nd day of the 3rd edition of the African Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge also stated that “It is in this light that the President of Ghana will train 30,000 SMEs in the tourism industry. This will mean that it will build the capacity and strengthen the ability to compete and create jobs and equip young people”
“In Africa, it is very important with a youthful population of 64% to 65%; As such, we cannot go without the support of youth. However, the youth must also demonstrate that they are willing to take the bull by its horns”, he charged. He urged all young people to be passionate, obsessive, innovative, and creative. “It is not about thinking about past problems but instead what are the opportunities that lie before you and the government opportunities to support you.”
The Minister revealed that government will provide a seed funding of GHC120 million for the initiative.
The Regional Director for Africa, UNWTO, Elcia Grandcourt stated that “young people will play a key and active role in driving and playing a transformative transition of the tourism sector and in paving the way in future advancement within the real global scenario brought by Covid 19 pandemic.”
According to her, ‘this is particularly true for us in Africa which is the youngest continent in the world with 60% of its population below the age of 25.’
She again said that capacity and training will be paramount if policymakers are to empower and cultivate the talents of the next generation of tourism professionals who will be required to identify instructive ideas and solutions in other to tackle the challenges the world is currently facing including building back better from the crisis.
The three-day summit dubbed ‘Empowering African youth in Tourism through Innovation, Education, and Investments in a changed World’ is being in Accra and organized to encourage youth in tourism to take up the mantle of leadership in tourism through entrepreneurship and innovation. It also presents a platform for them to be innovative and be informed about trends in the aviation, tourism, travel and hospitality sector.
Day two which took a more hybrid approach had sessions that bordered on accessing financial instruments for tourism start-ups, the future of travel and tourism, and the need to incorporate emerging trends such as Artificial Intelligence and other digital innovations that not only guarantee businesses’ survival but ensure that they are able to adapt to future changes.
A key highlight of the day was the pitch by six finalists of the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Challenge who made a case for support for their start-up ideas in the presence of a jury of experts drawn from academia, finance, tech, and social sectors. The winner will be announced on day three of the Summit.
Story by Samuel Obeng Appah and Emmanuella Asare