YOTOFEST22: Youth charged to safeguard the environment and promote tourism

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The 2022 edition of the Youth in Tourism Festival (YOTOFEST22) has begun with a call by various speakers on the youth to take up the mantle of protecting the environment while developing a culture for tourism.

In its third year, YOTOFEST seeks to deepen youth engagements and dialogue while up opening opportunities for young people within the tourism space. Theme for this year’s “The Youth, Tourism and Sanitation,” and is being hosted in Winneba, making it the first time the Festival is being held outside Accra.

At the opening ceremony yesterday, July 19 at the Jophus Anamuah-Mensah Conference Centre on University of Education Winneba, North Campus, Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Emmanuel Obed Acquah speaking on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor underscored the importance of the theme as both the youth and environment are important in driving tourism for economic growth.

“Let this 2022 YOTOFEST seek to implement a comprehensive problem-solving skills that will lead to developing youth tourism in the country and ensuring active participation and achieving SDGs which have been set to be achieved by 2030.

Prof. Emmanuel Obed Acquah

“We hope the range of interactive activities would ensure that participants will have that unique experience that will help them to promote youth engagements in the tourism sector and empower them to initiate more sustainable programmes in domestic tourism, sanitation, creative arts, tourism promotion and education,” he said.

The Paramount Chief of Efutu Traditional Area, Neenyi Ghartey VII, in his address commended organisers for the initiative to tourism and sanitation as focus for the event. The two, he said were areas his paramountcy have turned attention to bring much needed growth and development to Winneba. In doing so, the Chief opened up about some undertakings by traditional authorities in the area to protect and improve the environment for sustainability and tourism purpose.

Neenyi Ghartey stated that already, thousands of tree seedlings have been planted to avert deforestation in parts of the area. In addition to that is a soon-to-be-launched programme aimed at improving waste collection and disposal within communities in Winneba. At the centre of these initiatives, the Chief believes the youth, given the right motivation can do much better in championing good sanitation and tourism.

Paramount Chief of Efutu Traditional Area, Neenyi Ghartey VII

“The youth are an important partner if we are to succeed. We therefore have to take a second look at their needs against the weight of their contribution to society and culture and strive to place them appropriately for our mutual benefit,” he maintained.

Guest Speaker and President of the Ghana Hotels Association, Dr. Edward Ackah-Nyamike Jr stressed the importance of tourism to socio-economic development, declaring that the long value chain of the sector means that tourism affects every aspect of human life.

“If you put the theme of the Festival in perspective, and here, the focus is on the youth, you will appreciate that tourism has to do with every aspect of our life and I am glad the focus is on sanitation. Who would want to visit a place that is dirty or has the potential to give sickness, communicable diseases and all that? Who wants to visit a place that has choked gutters? And that is why the theme of the Festival is very important; especially with emphasis on the youth.”

President of the Ghana Hotels Association, Dr. Edward Ackah-Nyamike Jr

He added that posited that not only are youth to be regarded as future leaders, but current partners in development. Dr. Ackah-Nyamike Jr iterated, “You are partners in development now, which is why it is important that you begin to appreciate the essence and importance of tourism right from the early stages.”

The opening day of the 2022 Youth in Tourism Festival brought together a wide range of participants including, members of academia, traditional authorities, students, tourism clubs among others. There was exhibition of arts and crafts in addition to a youth forum.

The six-day event features a variety of exciting, youth-oriented and educative activities; including, Investor Pitch and Business Incubation, a tour, clean up exercise, a durbar and an awards’ and gala night among others.
YOTOFEST22 is being organized by the Tourism Society of Ghana, University of Education Winneba and Shape Attitudes Ghana.

Story by: Samuel Obeng Appah

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