Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, has said that the Ministry in collaboration with the Ghana Tourism Authority is in the process of finalizing regulations for tourist sites and attractions.
This, she said, would go a long way to improve industry standards at the sites and attractions sites leading to the influx of tourists into the country. She said this at the closing ceremony of the tour guides training programme, in Accra.
The training programme was to streamline the activities of tour sites and coach guides in order to maintain industry standards. Mrs Afeku said as a fourth foreign exchange earner for the country, the tourism industry has the potential to boost the economic fortunes of the nation since it has a multi-sectoral approach.
She said the Ministry deemed it appropriate as the resource persons for the programme were seasoned personalities in the industry who with sharing their experience and achievements would go a long way to equip participants with the requisite skill and experiences.
“Based on this, the course structures dealt with all aspects of the profession to ensure the development of the sector.”
She urged the other regions to take the training programme seriously since the plan of the GTA was to reach out to all tourist guards in the nation, and congratulated all participants expressing the hope that it would be applied in the field effectively and efficiently.
Mr Isaac Adomako-Mensah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Finance and Administration, GTA said one of their mandates was to promote Ghana as a preferred destination and it has to rely on the tour guides to market it.
He said tour guides were the epitome of the whole function of the Ministry, saying, they explained the attractions, culture, hospitality, customs and festivals of the country better than anyone.
He said he believed the training programme had sharpened their professional skills and it was not going to be a nine day wonder and that it would continue because the industry was dynamic.
“If you want to be on point, you would have to sharpen your knowledge and skills in the field.” Mr Adomako-Mensah said tourism was the way to go in order to lead to economic growth and development.
“When you encourage tourism you do not encourage deforestation, you encourage the ecology, promote cleanliness, culture and good behavior, thus while enjoying economic growth you also enjoy economic development.”
Mr Awuku Yirekyi, President of the Tour Guides Association of Ghana, said the training programme was in line with the provisions of the Tourism Act, 2011(ACT 817), saying, with the development of the tourist sites and attractions regulations, the training programme would help to add up and equip these guides at the sites and attractions with the requisite skills and experience.
The cooperation between the GTA and TORGAG had been the driving factor to the first phase of the training programme, with the main objective of providing a formal medium to register, train and license tour guides and discuss related issues.
He said it was also to ensure that all aspects of the profession was dealt with to ensure uniformity, based upon best practices among Ghanaian practitioners. The course structure was divided into four segments, course rationale, tourism in focus, the tour guide at work, and the tour guide licensing regime, he added.
“Some of the courses treated included, Tourism in Focus – Current Trends, Tour Guiding Today, Tourism Enterprises, Our Guide at Work, Role, Function and Ethics, The Tourism Product, Tools of the Tour Guide, Communications, Presentations and Interpretations, Industry Safety and Security, Practical Field Procedure, Report Writing, Classification of Tour Guides, Professional Training and Application, Licensing and Renewal Procedures.”
The nationwide training programme has been segmented into five (5) zones in terms of regions, namely: Greater Accra and Tema, Eastern and Volta, from October 3 to 5, Cape Coast and Western from October 10 to 12, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti from October 18 to 20, and Upper West, Upper East and Northern, from October 22 to 24.