Obudu Mountain Resort
Mr Akwasi Agyeman, the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Tourism Authority, says that Nigeria is endowed with the largest tourism and cultural potential and sites in West Africa.
Agyeman told newsmen in Lagos that if the sites were developed, millions of international tourists would be attracted to the continent and the sub-region. He advised the three tiers of government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to develop them for the benefit of all.
Agyeman spoke on the sideline of the just concluded Akwaaba Travel and Tourism Fair in Lagos. He said that Nigeria had so much to offer in terms of landscape, culture, tourism and hospitality potential that could attract international world. “Countries in the West African sub-region are still lagging behind in terms of tourism development on the African continent due to lack of cooperation,“ he said. He said that for the sector to grow in the sub-region, its member states must cooperate with one another and pursue a common policy.
He lauded the idea behind the establishment of the Akwaaba Travel and Tourism Fair which he said was to unite the African countries into one through the promotion of its diverse cultural and tourism values.
He said that it was also to create a platform for member states where they could exchange ideas on how African arts and craft could be properly packaged to meet international standards for exchange and marketed to the outside world.
Agyeman appealed to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to strengthen bilateral relations among their member states, especially, in the areas of tourism and culture. “This will boost the tourism profile of West African countries, attract human and tourism traffics to the sub-region, ” he said.
According to him, Nigeria and Ghana have been working closely in promoting their cultural values to the rest of the world. “Nigeria and Ghana share almost similar cultural and religious values. They also have lots of culture, tourism and hospitality assets to show to the world. “ Ghana is blessed with numerous attractions, heritage sites, natural resources, hospitality, manmade/artificial artifacts, and monuments to showcase to the world,” he said.
Agyeman , however, advised the Federal Government to train its security agents stationed at the Nigerian border with its neighbouring countries on how to positively relate with visitors and immigrants entering into Nigeria.
“The experience my team and I had at the border between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin while travelling by road to Nigeria to attend the Akwaaba Fair was not encouraging. “ We were stopped and screened by no fewer than 17 government security agencies on the road. It was unfriendly. “Government should assembly them at one particular check point where they would be performing their duties. “No tourists will find it interesting facing such challenges, “he said.
Agyeman said that the Government of Ghana was planning to organise Ghana Day at the Freedom Park in Lagos. He said that he would expect the Nigerian Government to reciprocate the same gesture in Ghana at a later date. He said this would further strengthen the existing cultural ties between both countries as well as promote cultural integration.