Spurred by its role as host of the 2017 World Tourism Forum, the government has launched a drive to become a leading meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) destination in West Africa. With this goal in mind, the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) in early 2018 established a Conventions Bureau, which has been tasked with collaborating with the private sector through the Ghana Tourism Federation. The strategy is based on three main pillars: marketing and promotion, infrastructure development, and skills training.
Accra has already gained some popularity as a MICE destination, and was named the West African “Conference City of the Year” for 2017 by the International Congress and Convention Association. Accra hosted several notable conferences in 2017-18, including the UN World Tourism Organisation training seminar for West Africa and the media unveiling for the 2018 All Africa Music Awards. In June 2018 it hosted the Weizo conference, an event designed to drive greater cooperation between the countries of West Africa, for the fourth time.
Marketing & Promotion
The GTA and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) are engaging with travel and tourism companies locally, as well as in Lagos, Nigeria, which is the commercial capital of the West African region. President Nana Akufo-Addo’s position as co-chairperson of the Group of Advocates for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) makes Accra a natural choice for UN-related events, and the country hosted the 2017 and 2018 African Youth SDGs Summits.
The most prominent conference facility in Accra has historically been Accra International Convention Centre, an 1800-person conference centre and venue that was built in the 1990s. Other conference venues in the city are the Ghana Trade Fair Centre, which hosts large exhibitions and expos, and the National Theatre. Between 2014 and 2018 a number of major international chains –including Marriott International, Kempinski, Holiday Inn, Golden Tulip and Mövenpick – constructed hotels with conference and meeting facilities in Accra, which has provided some diversity in options for conference venues.
There are some national and local government efforts to increase ecotourism activities in the east of the country, focusing on getting more corporates and institutions to host team-building events in the Volta Region, and specifically its capital city, Ho. Lying between two mountains and close to Lake Volta, Ho is home to a nascent ecotourism sector that can be further developed. In mid-2018 the MoTAC announced it was developing a strategy to transform Ho into the MICE capital of Ghana, though detailed plans had not yet been made public as of January 2019.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the tourism sector in Ghana directly supported 307,500 jobs or 2.4% of employment in 2017. While the tourism sector can serve as an engine for job creation, the government has also recognised that sector employees must be trained in skills relevant to hospitality and tourism jobs.
To this end, the government has launched two main initiatives linked to skills training. The first is the ongoing investment in the expansion of the Hotel Hospitality and Catering Training Institute, which reopened in July 2018 and will result in the improved training of hospitality staff throughout the country. The second is an initiative called the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Programme, under which the Ministry of Trade and Industry is training 10,000 entrepreneurs and extending financial support in the 2018/19 budget year to 2000 beneficiaries working in a number of economic sectors. The focus of these initiatives is on upskilling young Ghanaians to take up and create employment opportunities within the MICE segment.
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