Hundreds of women in the tourism industry went on a float through some principal streets in Accra and converged at the Afua Sutherland Park and opened a three-day national exhibition to mark World Tourism Day celebrated on the 27th of September every year.
The Day is celebrated to draw attention to tourism and encourage domestic tourism.
Mrs Esther Obeng-Dapaah, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, commending women in the tourism industry noted that on average more women were engaged in the tourism sector than other sectors of the economy.
She said 65 percent of employees in the tourism industry are women in the catering, restaurant, chop bars and drinking bars sector. The industry is the only one which women have dominated in their own capacities as owners and managers.
Mrs. Obeng-Dapaah urged stakeholders in the industry to support more women to become self-employed through tourism related activities by giving them micro credit.
This makes tourism a key industry for creating self-employment for women and maximizing benefits for local communities where they live.
The Minister called for awareness creation of tourism products like handicrafts, food and clothes to enable local communities to benefit directly from the industry.
Development of handicraft industry should form an important part of the strategic planning for community participation in tourism especially the participation of women, she said.
Mrs. Obeng-Dapaah stressed on the need to give tourism the necessary support.
Mr. Kofi Osei-Ameyaw, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, noted that the tourism industry had experienced continuous growth and was fast becoming the number one foreign exchange earner in the country.
He noted that tourism was a viable tool for poverty reduction and said Ghana had made progress in the development of the community based tourism.
Mr. Osei-Ameyaw repeated the need for financial institutions to support the tourism industry by way of giving micro credit to small and medium scale projects in the industry.
Mr. Daniel Dugan, Deputy Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, announced that his Ministry was putting in place a programme to address the issue of sex tourism which affected women the most.
He noted that even though tourism created an avenue for educating children, there was also child pornography and prostitutions which needed to be tackled.
Ms. Pamela Bridgewater, US Ambassador to Ghana, in a speech read on her behalf, observed that Ghana was a wonderful destination in terms of tourism because there was something for everyone that visited the country.
There are the castles which reminds us of our horrific past of slave trade, the Dubois Centre where one can learn about Pan-Africanism and also research and there is the beautiful Kakum canopy walkway, she mentioned.
Ms. Bridgewater pointed out that the greatest asset to Ghana in terms of tourism were the people. She urged government to continue with infrastructure development to enable tourists who visit the country enjoy their visit and to encourage them to make repeated visits.
Mrs. Justice Rose Owusu, an Appeal Court Judge who chaired the function urged young girls not to allow themselves to be used as prey for those interested in sex tourism.
Refrain from engaging in adventurous activities under the guise of tourism, she said and urged queen mothers and parents to protect their young girls from being victims of the sex tourism.
In a related development, Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Former Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations commended women in the tourism industry for their faith and support to it.
He urged industry players to always make quality service delivery and products their yardstick and priority since costumers wanted value for their monies and the sector survived on repeated visits.
Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, who is also an NPP presidential aspirant also commended the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for recognizing the contribution of women in the tourism industry.