Rethinking Tourism as a catalyst for sustainable livelihoods

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For some of us, tourism means a lot more to us than just travelling for adventure or sight-seeing. It represents something much more than having fun; it’s our livelihood, cash crop and life.

For tourism, we have invested our all and will continue to do so. It is for these reasons and more that this year’s theme for World Tourism Day celebration – Rethink Tourism – excites me. Because there is a lot that makes this rethinking more than necessary.

For the many opportunities tourism creates, the potential for wealth creation it presents and the many lives it impacts, there is ample reason to rethink tourism.

The UNTWO says of the theme, “Tourism’s relevance has never been clearer. The time is now to seize this opportunity to rethink how we do tourism.”

For us as Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), rethinking tourism means taking stock of everything that has been done in the past to harness tourism as a force for good. Rethinking tourism also is to re-strategize to make tourism more meaningful to those whose livelihoods depend on it. It’s about taking bold decisions to that can truly make tourism a cornerstone for economic transformation.

Rethinking tourism is also doing away with parochial tendencies towards individualism and finding common ground to work together to bring much needed growth and development to the sector.

Women who make up the greater proportion of labour force in tourism need to be given their due and that should be part of the rethinking agenda. It’s time to trust them to take up bold mantles of leadership and not just be relegated to the shop floor.

As a woman leader, I know all too well about the extent I can go to enrich the lives of those I lead whether in my capacity as a private tourism business operator or President of TOUGHA. But the question is how many women find themselves at the helm of tourism positions? Indeed, it is time to rethink tourism to bridge the gaps of inequality that exists in it while opening doors for inclusion.

For the young people in Africa; especially the teeming Ghanaian youths that have and continue to embrace tourism as a way of life, rethinking tourism is to create the platforms for their voices to be heard. It’s about creating an enabling environment for them to express themselves creatively and build their capacities in understanding tourism as a business and an alternative for employment.

We need to rethink tourism in the adoption of modern technologies and the spaces they provide for marketing and promotion of our sites, attractions and destinations.

The constant shift in weather conditions present serious concerns for us in tourism. Unpredictable rainfall patterns pose a lot of challenges to effectively planning travel and tours. As we rethink tourism, we should be mindful of the global phenomenon of climate change that causes some of these things and actions that can be taken to mitigate their impact on tourism.

Quite importantly also is for increased investment into the sector as it treads the recovery path. Such investment although is expected from the government, rethinking tourism should impress on government to create the right climate for wider private participation and investment into the sector to thrive.

Tourism could be so much more with the right rethinking approaches towards building a vibrant and robust sector that is sensitive to those whose livelihoods hinge on it. So on September 27 as we again celebrate the accomplishments of tourism to our local and world economies, let’s be inspired and spurred on by the theme to do some real rethinking to ensure that tourism benefits all and sundry in a more meaningful and sustainable way. Happy World Tourism Day!

By: Mrs. Alisa Osei-Asamoah
President, Tour Operators Union of Ghana

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