GHATOF Workshop Report at Koforidua Feb 17-19-2009

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Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) Workshop Report at Koforidua Feb 17-19-2009
  1 REPORT ON THE WORKSHOP AT KOFORIDUA—FEBRUARY 17-19, 2009-AIM OF THE WORKSHOP: To discuss the Constitution of the Ghana Tourism Federation (Ghatof), and a StrategicPlan for the Federation. OBJECTIVE: ã   To develop a constitution which will strengthen Ghatof and position it well in theeconomic sector of the country? ã   Justify its leadership role among the various associations in the industry ã   Arm it with advocacy skills to get the best hearing for its cause from the publicand private sector  ã   Lead the industry to become economically more productive, win a wider externalmarket, and increase travel to Ghana as a preferred destination.Discuss the new Tourism Bill, presently in its draft form before Parliament. SPONSOR  SPEED Ghana sponsored the entire workshop: Facilitators’ Fees, Transportation,Accommodation and meals. FACILITATORS 1.   Gerd Hesselmann,2.    Nana Baa Wiredu MODERATOR: Jean Lukaz Number of participants: 38List of participants: as per attached METHOD: Presentations, brainstorming, discussions, working groups, presentation of working group outcome.The workshop brought together an assemblage of 38 participants from mainly the privatesector. The Ministry of Tourism sent one representative, at assistant director level and theGhana Tourist Board sent two; the Deputy Executive Director for Administration andFinance, and the Regional Manager for the Eastern Region. Ghana Tourism DevelopmentCompany was represented by their Chief Executive.In order to ensure that maximum benefit was obtained from the participants, a bus took all to Koforidua from Accra. This allowed them to get acquainted with each other and setthe grounds for a fruitful evening session, which followed the dinner. Since the departurewas delayed and the evening traffic getting out of Accra was heavy, our arrival time waslate and this affected the amount of time available for the session. We however started atabout 8.00 p.m. and ended the session at 10.15 p.m.  2Mr. Hesselmann took participants through an exercise to establish why the workshop wasorganised and what to expect out of it.Members were asked to identify their expectations. They all invariably expressed thehope that they would be able within the three days to discuss the problems that confrontthe industry and their various associations and come away from the workshop with a better education on how to make their associations work and also contribute to a moreefficient and effective Ghatof. DAY TWO. After a brief introduction of the agenda for the day, the international consultant requestedfor a four team working groups to tackle specific issues relating to some problem areas.One Group dealt with problems confronting the public sector. A second group tackled problems of the private sector; a third had the issues of Ghatof as their main agenda and afourth dealt with associations. This was an excellent exercise because it had all the participants make very useful contributions on their subjects. They identified the specific problems and also their srcin and offered some solutions. Issues dealing with private companies Here they talked of the frustrations about multiplicity of taxes, poor enforcement of regulations, high cost of utilities and access to funding. For example many felt that the public sector tax agents should all come together and find ways of consolidating the taxesinto one and adopt a formula of sharing the taxes when paid. Utilities and the high costwas also a drain on them especially when low business revenues fail to cover such costs.Members also had a problem with attraction sites. There was poor signage to them. Noreal tourist maps were available and rest stops do not exist on many of the routes. Associations These complained about inadequate standards, lack of financial resources to undertake projects because the Banks did not understand the sector to help. Training sources toequip their personnel with skills were found to be inadequate and the quality of what theytaught suspect. They also felt reluctant to join Ghatof because they were not aware of anycompelling benefits to make them join to access them. Ghatof  The workshop members felt Ghatof as it exists now is uninspiring and thus unattractiveas an association to join. It had no benefits to its membership and therefore paying duesto belong to it was a waste of resources. They also agreed that because of the weak financial base of the Federation it could not operate efficiently. Others felt that manyassociations and companies which could be part of Ghatof were not aware of existenceand what it stood for. Public Sector  3It was generally agreed by members that they were confused about what the mandate of the Ministry and the Tourist Board was since there was overlapping and conflicts in their activities. It was felt the Ministry did not have a enough clout with the other ministries as peers to influence them about the needs of the private sector.They wanted an inter-ministerial body put in place to resolve periodically the obstaclesthat hinder the sector’s development. This is in recognition of the fact that Tourismindustry cuts across the lines of many ministries and therefore its support base comesfrom recognition of this fact. Members wanted acceleration on the promulgation of theBill to set up the Tourism Authority and the Tourism Development Fund. HospitalityTraining establishment to produce the requisite human resource for the industry or set upa department to assure the quality of manpower already in the system. Members alsowanted to see more of the decentralisation of the activities of the Ministry and the GhanaTourist Board to the Regions and Districts.There is little doubt that the summary of the thirty minutes team work in the workshopgave a very good picture of what the industry is going through and how they are perceived by the private sector. This gave a clue as to how much work should be done inthe industry with the help of Institutions like SPEED with access to know-how to tacklethe problems. Next the Workshop tackled the Constitution and with the help of the moderators wentfrom article to article. The contributions of the gathering have been a good input into thework of the consultant of SPEED working on an efficient Constitution. It was alsodecided that the time allocated to the discussion of the constitution was not enough andtherefore a subcommittee was set up to deal with outstanding issues. There was anobvious urgency here since the associations want to go to congress to elect the newleadership for the Federation. What was missing here was the logistics to carry throughthe work by the committee.Members had to deal with the Tourism Bill. This was quite a heated discussion. There are presently two Bills circulating in the system; One from the Ministry of Tourism andanother the product of a Working Group of the Public-Private sector partnership financed by the JICA project. Members were not happy about the fact that no effort seems to bemade to unify the two documents. Again a committee was set up to find ways and meansto unite the essentials of the two documents and produce a common document. IMPORTANT ISSUES NEEDING PRIORITY ATTENTION The following subject call for special attention to move Ghatof to a productive Phase. ã   Lobbying to ensure favourable framework conditions for the industryoperatives. ã   Ensure a strong competitive position of the Ghana Tourism offer  ã   A conscientious effort to be made for product quality assurance ã   A sustainable training programme for needs of all levels of the humanresource of the industry.  4 ã   An efficient and effective marketing programme needs be put in place tocater for the dynamic needs of the industry and all its sectors. ã   An effort to study the needs of every sector of the industry and come upwith well measured solutions to arrest such problems or accommodate themfrom further damage to the growth of the industry. ã   Service for the members should be appropriate and swift.In summary, these are to be considered as priority issues of Ghatof unearthed at theworkshop that needs urgent attention:1.   Finalisation and promulgation of the Ghatof Constitution2.   Solving the problem OF MULTIPLE TAXATION3.   The resolution of the Problems concerning the Draft Tourism Bill 20084.   A special attention needed for the development and packaging of thecountry’s Tourism Product for the market in and outside Ghana.5.   Build up tourism information which is quality, diversified and dynamicenough to reflect the various needs of the market.6.   To design a tourism promotion machinery which will generate positiveresponses from the markets and put Ghana up as a must choose destination.Other subjects that came up for discussion were;1.   The date for GHATOF’s Annual ConferenceHow Ghatof and its membership will participate in this Year’s World Tourism Daywhich will be celebrated by the UNWTO in Ghana (specifically in Kumasi, inAshanti Region.2.   Preparations for the meeting with the New Minister.3.   Marketing of member associations4.   Ways and means of building up a fund for the sector 5.   The decentralisation of Ghatof to the regions and the districts. CONCLUSION ã   The idea of bringing people together in a hide-away place to deliberate onimportant issues as was done here must be applauded since thecontributions were quality. ã   The issues discussed there educated members who had little or poor knowledge of the subjects. Others with better understanding of the subjectoffered very good contribution to enlighten their fellow attendees. ã   Ghatof seriously needs to look for technical people to help it deal withcertain subject areas like marketing, fund creation and fund raising, Product packaging, branding, and ecommerce. ã   Ghatof needs a well equipped secretariat manned by a modest but qualifiedstaff to serve the interest of the industry. ã   Periodic meetings like this should be encouraged among the associations to brainstorm on important themes that hinder the growth of the sector.
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