Maame Yaa Nyame Oppong, a pupil of Immaculate Santa Maria and Ashanti Regional representative for this year’s Junior Tourism Ambassador has emerged winner of the second edition of the event organised for pupils less than 13 years old.
The event was organised by the Kids in Tourism Ghana and the Ghana Tourism Authority for 11 regions to promote and inculcate tourism in children.
Greater Accra with its representative from St. Joseph International, placed second while Bono East with a representative from the Starlet School, placed third.
The winner received a crown, a sash, products from sponsors and a certificate for participation.
Dr Gloria Diri, wife of the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria, said children had been ignored and given no novel tourism options despite the importance of outdoor tourism activities in their lives and the potential psychological and social effects tourism events may have on them during their formative years.
To instil conservative values in children, she advised African States and Ministries of Education to include field trips to outdoor residential centres in their curricula.
That, she said would provide children with a significant and formative early travel experience that could potentially affect adult travel and leisure preferences across the continent.
“By that way, the African child will be well abreast of green spaces, which range from peri-urban through to wild and natural landscapes that offer adventurous outdoor activities for the children.
“Outdoor residential centres enable childhood to have experiences that can influence future consumer choices, alongside shape support for the future protection of Africa’s natural landscapes,” she said.
Dr Diri said through outdoor learning opportunities, outdoor centres would also promote children’s empowerment and potentially shape them into “sustainability thinkers,” “sustainability transformers,” and finally, “eco-literate children and tourists.”
She urged officials in all African nations to focus on child tourism initiatives with the goal of providing children with recreational amenities like playgrounds, green areas, and other outdoor recreational areas.
Dr. Diri said a review of children’s tourism policy was necessary to fill the “markedly under-explored” gaps and highlight the significance of outdoor residential centres in the development of the tourism industry.
“Such policies will also serve as responses to African States’ policy agenda to increase nature connections and support conservation. The influence of children on sustainable leadership is becoming increasingly important for service industries. However, little research has been dedicated to the role that children play in the sustainability of the tourism industry,” she noted.
Dr Diri stated that through the framework of the “Kids in Tourism Africa Initiative,” which had successfully been launched in Ghana, they ought to work together to deepen the understanding of the key elements that shaped children’s behaviours and purchasing choices in the tourism and hospitality industries.
She added that she was eagerly anticipating the official launch of an “all African Kids in Tourism” in Accra to expand the awareness-raising campaign on “Kids in Tourism” to every corner of the culturally diverse continent with the assistance of governmental and private sector actors.
Madam Alisa Osei-Asamoah, President, Tour Operators’ Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), said for tourism to have a successful future, young people must be inspired to take on the challenge of getting to know their beautiful country and, more importantly, promoting it among themselves and adults both locally and abroad.
She said Ghanaians were blessed with resources and the least they could do was to highlight their distinctiveness to inspire others to visit and take advantage of what the nation had to offer.
She noted that the tourism industry offered a wide range of options for both adults and children, and as such, the public must be interested in exploring the local settings and learning the stories and history hidden within.
Mr. Kofi Atta Kakra Kusi, Deputy Head of Corporate Affairs, Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), speaking on behalf of the CEO, asked Ghanaians to encourage domestic tourism by purchasing products made in Ghana and tourist sites.