Source: GNA - President John Dramani Mahama on Monday appealed to professional brand experts in Africa, to effectively package and promote the tourists sites of the continent to the international world.
He said: "Marketing and media consultants in the continent need to change the narrative about the continent by painting a favourable picture…to the international world."
President Mahama said this when he addressed the opening ceremony of the three-day United Nations world Tourism Organisation conference held on the theme: "Enhancing Brand Africa fostering tourism development in Accra."
The conference attracted participants made up of Ministers of Tourism, Tourism experts and consultants from all over the African continent and beyond.
President Mahama explained that the continent had over the years risen above the expected levels in all the aspects of growth and development and needed to use that as a bargaining chip for change.
He said had Africa leveraged her information, communication and technology levels and with good packaging and promotion, the continent could in the next few years rub shoulders with other advanced continents in growth and development.
The President said apart from her riches in natural resources, the African continent is also endowed with beautiful tourist sites that could magnetise many more tourists in the world if well packaged and promoted.
President Mahama said although tourism in 2014 took a nosedive in West Africa because of the outbreak of the Ebola viral disease, many countries are recovering from the reduction of arrivals at the airports.
He said apart from cocoa, gold and oil and gas, tourism is the fourth foreign exchange earner for Ghana, contributing 4.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product to the Ghanaian economy.
"Ghana is considered as the model of peace, democracy and the gateway to Africa and would therefore continue to facilitate activities that will attract more tourists from outside the country."
He said the recent inauguration of the Sawla-Fulfuso road in the Northern Region had increased the number of visitors to the Mole National Park near Damongo.
Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, said tourism, culture and the arts are becoming major foreign exchange earners for most countries in the World and Ghana would take advantage of that opportunity to harness potentials.
She said Africa is recognised as a key tourism destination and needs to carve a niche for the continent by enhancing branding systems to the global world.
Mr Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation, said Africa had come of age as one of the world's fastest growing tourism regions, rising from 26 million international tourists in 2000 to 56 million in 2014 and contributing more than $ 36 billion to the African economy.
"Tourism's robust expansion in Africa has stimulated economic progress, poverty alleviation and environmental conservation, ultimately making a positive difference in the lives of millions of people."
Nii Alfred Okoh Vanderpuije, Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, called on African leaders to harness all tourist sites for patronage and foreign exchange.
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