There is a strong nexus between sanitation and tourism growth in Ghana. This makes the cleanliness and the sustainability of the environment crucial if Ghana wants turn its tourism fortune around.
This was the general sentiments that were gleaned from various speakers during the launch of the third Youth in Tourism Festival (YOTOFEST2022) at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) last Friday, November 12.
Dr. B.B.B. Bingab – Dean of Student Affairs at UEW said, as an institution, they prioritise clean environment for which reason they had invested heavily in making their campus litter-free. UEW is perhaps the only tertiary in the country with a dedicated Sanitation Taskforce.
Dr. Bingab said the adverse effect of environmental pollution should be cause for concern as it makes it difficult to forecast atmospheric conditions. “We’ve polluted the environment so much that it’s difficult to predict what will happen next,” he lamented.
He said it was this that the University was happy to partner in organizing YOTOFEST2022 which looks at “The Youth, Tourism and Sanitation” as the theme. He added, “We want to nurture the youth so that they can be environmentally conscious and ensure its sustainability.”
Director of Project Development and Investment at Ghana Tourism Authority, Ben Anane- Nsiah, noted that the country’s tourism products cannot be fully appreciated if the environment is compromised. He said although Ghana has the basic requirements such as peace, safety and security to woo tourists, a dirty environment doesn’t give the country a competitive urge. On the global tourism competitive index, Ghana has always ranked low in the area of sanitation.
“Ghana is not the only destination for a potential tourist but in terms of public safety and political stability we are there, however with regard to sanitation, we need to improve in that area because beautification goes hand in hand with tourism,” he implored.
Anane-Nsiah posited that the youth needed to take a keen interest in the promotion of domestic tourism. “We want the interest in tourism to be such that when you grow and have families, tourism will become part of the things you do or an established lifestyle and then all the economic advantage will be harnessed,” he said.
Acting Director, Tourism Directorate, Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, George Nana Kankam, , said there was the need to establish relations between academia and policy-makers and that once that was done it would inform policy decisions, which would enable enough collaboration and partnership to put Ghana where it ought to be.
He said the theme for the celebration was timely and crucial as the whole world was currently discussing issues of climate change. He pledged the Ministry’s support to ensure a successful YOTOFEST2022.
Joseph Amartey, Executive Director of the Tourism Society of Ghana (TOSOGHA) said the festival, the third since its inception, would be the first for the Central Region and a flagship programme at the regional level.
“YOTOFEST 2022 is aimed at implementing a comprehensive analysis of the problems and prospects to find ways to develop youth tourism in the country and create a new model for work in this area, as well as active participation in the sustainable development of youth tourism in Ghana,” he said.
Some activities lined up for the week-long festival include, tourism business investor pitch and incubation, youth and community durbar, the big tree fun fair and domestic tours, awards and gala dinner night, clean up exercise and a street art carnival.
YOTOFEST2022 comes off on June 20 -26, 20222 and is being organised by TOSOGHA and UEW and marks the first time the event is being held outside Accra.