The Tourism industry is considered the fastest-growing enterprise among other economic sectors in contemporary times. This assertion is validated by the economic flamboyancy, record-high Tourism receipts developed destinations rake in to shore up their respective GDP for global growth.
For instance, the World Travel and Tourism Councilstatistics indicates that Tourism contributed 10.4%, representing $9,170 billionto global GDP in 2019, which decreased to 5.5% in 2020 because of COVID-19 worldwide restrictions.
In 2020, Tourism contributed5.5% to GDP, representing $4,671 billion. Your guess,relating to the sharp decline in 2020, is as good as mine.Global employment and jobs created in 2019 were 334 million, and that of 2020 stood at 272 million.
Interestingly, the Tourism industry grew by 3.5%, while the global economy growth ratestood at 2.5, validating the Tourism industry’sprimacy over other sectors of the economy and, therefore, considered a “global new currency” with unlimited purchasing power for developed destinations.
Meanwhile, Tourism contribution in 2019 in Ghana was 5.0% of the total economy, representing ¢17,497.3 million,an equivalenceof $3,305.1 million and with 6.9% of GDP growth. 623.1jobs were created, representing 5.2% of the total employment.
The international visitor impact was¢5,087.7 million,an equivalenceof $961.0 million.(OxfordEconomics & UNWTO).Based on this brilliant performance, the Hon. Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal;a man with strong business background and shrewdness, indicated he envisionssteering the affairs of the Industry to rake in annually $5 billion and subsequently make the Tourism, Arts and Culture Sector the No. 1 contributor to Gross Domestic Product in Ghana in few years.
In the main, “Tourism comprises the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one conservative year for leisure, business, andother purposes” (UNWTO). Whereas the Tourism Society of Britain conceptualisesthe experiential industryas a “temporary short-period movement of people to destinations outside their normal living and working places”, this articleconceives “Tourism as a socio-cultural and economic experience and/or activity defined by people, people movement and people expenditure”.
There has not been inhistory that a single discipline, such as theTourism industry, captures all aspects of human endeavours, delving into the socio-cultural, economic, political, environmental, historical, andindustrial realm of life.
The above notwithstanding, one can talk of Educational Tourism, Conference Tourism, Atomic Tourism, Business Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Cultural Tourism, Eco-tourism, Industrial Tourism, Medical Tourism (Health Tourism), Religious and Faith Tourism, Rural Tourism, Sex Tourism, Space Tourism, Sports Tourism, War Tourism, Wildlife Tourismamong others.
The cross-cutting, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional characterisation of the Tourism industry supports and validates the article’s position the “Sectoris a global new currency”, and when developed in itsentirety can be a sustained,viable and veritable income stream for countries except forthe occurrence of a natural disaster such as the coronavirus outbreak of 2019, which badly bruised the economic flamboyancy of the industry.
In the interim, Ghana can concentrate on the Tourism forms she has the competitive advantage in and perfect products portfolio development with emphasis on establishing Unique Selling Points(USP) to increase domestic and international tourism receipts.
For instance, improving the face of Educational Tourism, Conference Tourism, Business Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Cultural Tourism, Eco-tourism, Medical Tourism (Health Tourism), Religious and Faith Tourism, and Rural Tourism can be a magic wand to shore up earnings in Tourism. Though prostitution is illegal in Ghana, it is being practised.
The policy on sex tourism is unclear and it is time the Ghanaian destination came out clear on it. The reason is that the sex tourism industry is worth billions with millions of sex workers scattered around the world.It is usually the case that while planning for a vacation, there are tourists/visitors, who are looking for places where they can have sexual encounters to enhance their travel experience.
This article believes it has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, the proposition”Tourism is a global new currency” and if purposely planned can yield gargantuandividends, the kind most destinations never experienced in modern history.
By DR ALPHONSE KUMAZA
The writer is a Specialist in Monitoring and Evaluation,Corporate Responsibility and SustainabilityStrategic ManagementEconomic Policy and GovernanceCorporate Governance