The Gauteng Tourism Authority has signed a ‘game-changing’ Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ghana Tourism Authority, as one of the outcomes of the inaugural Ghana Week in South Africa, which was aimed at strengthening tourism, trade and investment relations between the two countries.
The agreement, signed by Gauteng Tourism CEO, Sthembiso Dlamini, and Ghana Tourism CEO, Akwasi Agyeman, on Friday (August 19), outlines spheres of co-operation in various areas of tourism development, including joint destination marketing, leveraging MICE markets and exchange of best practices in professional event co-ordination and support of SMMEs.
South Africa has identified West Africa as a source market for strong potential growth.
More than 21 000 Ghanaians visited South Africa in 2019 and in the same year, South Africa was Ghana’s sixth-largest source market, with 18 381 arrivals.
“We are very clear that, as a destination, the rest of the continent is very important to us. If you look at our numbers, about 70% to 80% of arrivals come from the rest of the continent,” said Dlamini at the signing.
“When one tourist comes to our destination, eight to 12 jobs are supported. So it’s not only about tourism for enjoyment, it’s tourism to ensure that the livelihoods of both South Africans and Ghanaians are well taken care of,” said Dlamini.
The MoU also states that the tourism authorities will facilitate meetings between their respective national tourism grading councils to ‘improve and harmonise regional quality assurance’; seek to have private sponsored events replicated in both territories; and engage in tourism roundtable discussions.
Grace Mason, South Africa High Commissioner to Ghana, pointed out that Ghana’s strong cultural and heritage ties to South Africa provided further impetus for strengthening tourism relations.
“Our culture and heritage are inextricably linked. Tourism is an opportunity to recover our prospective economies, promote our destinations, promote our beautiful countries and promote everything that is proudly South African and proudly Ghanaian.”
Removing barriers to tourism
Judi Nwokedi, Board Chairperson of the Gauteng Tourism Authority and COO of Tourvest, described the MoU as a “game changer if properly implemented and executed” and gave her assurance that the tourism authorities would ensure this was the case.
Speaking earlier in the week, Nwokedi said it was time for various tourism and trade agreements between South Africa and Ghana to come to fruition.
“The MoUs (that we have signed) have been idle for too long. We need to move beyond that to performance management.”
During the week, tourism industry stakeholders and investors also urged for solutions to the blockages of free movement between the two countries, which include lengthy delays in the signing of a visa waiver policy and a shortage of direct flights.