Following the successful summit in Istanbul, which took place on Feb. 16-18 and hosted hundreds of guests from over 20 countries, the World Tourism Forum has this time changed the continent as it took place yesterday in Ghana's capital city of Accra, bringing together the world tourism industry's best who met for the first time at the 'Africa Summit.'
"We came to Ghana with many investors to conduct market research and to invest in new projects like hotels, airlines and travel agencies," World Tourism Forum Chairman Bulut Yağcı said during his opening speech, adding that they could also cooperate with various tour operators in order to bring tourists to Ghana and the Africa region.
After the summits in Antalya, Moscow, and Istanbul, which created a tremendous impression, the World Tourism Forum has this time brought together at one place leaders of world tourism to evaluate the tourism potential of Africa.
The Africa Summit, held at Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City in Accra and attended by more than 400 participants, was held under the auspices of the Presidency of Ghana with the participation of tourism ministers of African countries, heads of tourism authorities of African countries, hoteliers, tour operators, travel agencies and tourism investment companies.
During his opening speech, Yağcı said the forum started its journey in 2013 and that it has become a project that brings together hundreds of tourism professionals and creates new trends.
Indicating that the World Tourism Forum is a global brand, Bulut said they continue their projects to become the platform where world leaders will discuss. He also said the forum has a national and multicultural understanding, adding that he believes tourism has an important place in Africa.
Indicating that Ghana is economically and politically one of the most stable countries in West Africa, Yağcı said Ghana is a role model for all of Africa and the future star of the continent. "Tourism of Ghana has a global value and we are here to promote this value to the whole world," he said.
He said the primary aim of the World Tourism Forum is to add the value to the well-being of global tourism.
He also underscored they believe tourism would be a great contribution to the world's peace and stability and that it is a great opportunity to overcome hate and racism.
At the end of his speech, Bulut said they came to Ghana with many investors to make research and to invest in new projects like hotels, airlines and travel agencies.
Indicating that they are doing a lot of events in Russia and that there are a lot of tour operators that bring a lot of tourists to Turkey, Bulut said they could cooperate with Ghana, Accra and the Africa region and that it would be a good potential for the tourism of Africa.
GHANA TO WORK HARD TO GET SHARE OF GLOBAL TOURISM INDUSTRY
During his opening speech, Ghana Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia said they want to bring Ghana among the popular destinations such as Dubai, Greece and the Caribbean Islands. "We must work hard for Ghana to get a share in the multi-billion dollar tourism sector, he said.
He also said they were honored to host the African Summit, organized by the World Tourism Forum, and that it was an important event for the country and for the African continent.
Indicating they are working hard for the tourism sector of the country and that they were carrying out investments, he said: "We are working to bring tourists who want to visit Ghana to a welcoming, safe and politically stable country. The World Tourism Forum is an opportunity for this. Topics that will be discussed at the summit are also important for the future of Africa as well. We want to use this opportunity well.
Bawumia expressed that Ghana's tourism industry has grown successfully and reached an important point over the years. "We are very happy because of this. With important projects, we will make Ghana an important center in West Africa," he said.
"Tourism is creating many jobs in Ghana. We want to put Ghana's name among popular destinations such as Dubai, Greece and the Caribbean Islands. We have to work hard so that Ghana gets a share of the multi-billion dollar tourism industry. Tourism has a contribution of around 3 percent to the growth of Ghana. Ghana's tourism strength lies in the warmth of its people," he said, adding: "We give importance to tourism infrastructure. We make a lot of investments. We have to work hard to take a share of the tourism industry. African countries need to take measures to make it easier for tourists to visit their country."
GHANA'S TOURISM GROWTH OF 5.1 PCT FROM 2017 to 2027
Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture of the Republic of Ghana Catherine Afeku said the summit was a historical meeting for the people of Ghana. She also said the World Travel and Tourism Council expects Ghana's tourism industry to maintain an annual growth of 5.1 percent from 2017 to 2027.
Afeku also said the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in their 2017 report also urged African governments to use tourism for transformation and inclusive growth.
According to the country's own statistics, Afeku said the internal tourism arrival was 1.2 million of inbound traffic. She also said Ghana offers immense opportunities in the tourism and the hospitality sector.
"Our heritage, our culture, our democracy, respect for the rule of law and the warmth and friendliness of our people, make us the perfect destination in West Africa. I'm very confident that after today's event, the conversation will continue on how to hone our huge opportunities in the film, arts, fashion, food and music to create the design growth and prosperity through jobs for our citizens, especially women and youth," she said.
She also thanked the leadership of the World Tourism Forum for partnering with the government of Ghana to open up the hidden treasures of Ghana to the world.
At the sessions held within the scope of the summit, topics such as the importance of marketing in the development of destinations in Africa, tourism investments, impacts of policies carried out in Africa on the tourism sector, e-tourism and the regional differences in hotel management and marketing were discussed.
The summit also witnessed discussions regarding tourism potentials of the African countries and emerging global tourism economy and the promotion of tourism investments in the region.