By Omololu Olumuyiwa
Accra, the capital and economic centre of Ghana played host to Accra Weizo, a travel event that seeks to grow seamless Travel in West Africa after three years due to the effect of Coronavirus that led to global lockdown.
Accra Weizo 2023 organised by Akwaaba African Travel Market in partnership with Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) with the theme: “Tourism development through digitalization” held at the famous Accra City Hotel on 26th May, 2023.
The founder, Akwaaba African Travel Market and organiser, Accra Weizo, Ambassador Ikechi Uko in his welcome address said the event had created a West African product for domestic market where over 400 million people could benefit and urged the industry players to invest in Africa more than in the outside world.
“Accra Weizo was geared towards getting stakeholders in the tourism industry in West Africa to cooperate amongst themselves”, Uko said.
He stated further that despite the enormous challenges, Africa could achieve more with collaboration rather than competition.
Uko urged on the need to encourage West Africans to travel within the region to grow it domestic market and harness its opportunities.
“The highest spending tourists are Africans, and so all our markets must not go t Europe, we must invest in Africa and share our strengths together to grow the continent”, Uko concluded.
In his speech, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr. Ekow Sampson said one of the many strategies adopted by the GTA was to create local and international awareness of Ghana’s tourism products through participation in both local and international tourism fairs and exhibitions.
Sampson said events like Accra Weizo are considered the most effect ways of reaching out to the markets and also provide unique platform for the buyers and sellers to interact for business in a unique manner.
“Tourism and technological advancement were highly interwoven and crucial on all operational, structural, marketing and strategic levels to facilitate global communication between suppliers, consumers and intermediaries”, Sampson said.
He said Nigeria was a major source market as far as Ghana’s tourism was concern and continued to play a vital role in Ghana’s tourism business.
“Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia remained among the top ten arrival countries, with about 9.5 per cent, 1.8 per cent and 1.6 per cent of total annual arrivals respectively in Ghana,” he added.
Mr Sampson expressed gratitude to organisers for the programme in the development and promotion of tourism in the West Africa sub-region.
In his paper presentation, Dr. Kobby Mensah of Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, University of Ghana highlighted that tourism industry is being transformed by a number of key technologies and it is therefore important for tourism enterprises to embrace digitalization and innovation to drive sustainable and inclusive growth of tourism in Africa.
Earlier, the Director of Human Resource, Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture, Mr Vitus Otoo Langmagne in a speech read on behalf of the sector minister, Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal said the initiative had provided the platform for Ghana to lead the discussion on tourism development promotion in the sub-region.
He encouraged industry players to embrace digitization, utilise it effectively to drive sustainable tourism growth in West Africa.
“Digitization being the major driver in tourist data collection and dissemination is critically in this process. Travel professionals must champion these causes,” Langmagne added.
The panelists at the Accra Weizo 2023 who also highlighted the significance of digitization for tourism development are Akosua Shirley, Eddie Ampah, Eugene Allotey and Dr. Olanma Alvanis Ojukwu.
During the BALAFON Travel award session, Director-General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Alhaji Nura Kangiwa emerged the “West Africa Travel and Tourism Hospitality Man of the Year 2023”.
ASKY, the Pan-African airline received the prestigious “Best Airline in West Africa”; Adansi Travels won the “Best Tour Operator in West Africa”; Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City in Accra bagged the “Best Hote”l award.
The Chief Executive Officer, Alisa Hotel, Mr. Kwasi Bamfo emerged as “West Africa Tourism Personality of the Year 2023; Satguru Travels and Tours emerged the “Best Tourism company in West Africa” and The Royal Senchi Hotel & Resort bagged the “Best Resort in West Africa”.
The Managing Director, Destination Connect, Nairobi, Kenya, Mr. Consaga Khisa who spoke with Travelscope Magazine lauded the initiative of the organiser of Accra Weizo as a forum of marketing Africa tourism potentials to each others.
“I am excited as one of the exhibitors at Accra Weizo, this is a great event that bring travel professionals and stakeholders together to share knowledge and work out a future path of success West Africa and Africa in general”, Khisa said.
Prior to the climaxed of Accra Weizo conference and Balafon Awards of excellence, the participants, journalists and exhibitors went on two days tour packaged by Ghana Tourism Authority to The Royal Senchi Resort; Peninsula Resort and Golf Club both in Akosombo, Eastern Region where they engaged in leisure activities like horseback riding, canopy walkway, golfing, lawn tennis, hiking, boat cruising, cultural night life, Ghana cuisines and food tourism.