Earth Rights Ghana, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture and the Ghana Hotels Association, has organised the maiden forum for stakeholders on the need to green Ghana’s hospitality industry.
The forum, on the theme: “Greening Ghana’s hospitality industry”, was aimed at reviewing policies and strategies for greening the tourism sector, particularly the hospitality sub sector, with cross cutting themes on waste disposal, energy efficiency, water use and standards.
It was also to share best practices in the industry
and advocate for a certification within the industry as an incentive for good performance.
Mr Ben Anane Nsiah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Tourism Authority, said as a sector that even though there were laws that regulated the activities of industry players, there was none critically on environment and greening.
He said the green component was missing because practitioners were not expected to impact negatively on the environment.
“Our laws can be amended. There are recognised steps that we go through, making sure that whoever we license has satisfied the mandatory steps.”
Mr Nsiah said that as an industry, it was important to move on the path of awareness creation and use of more incentives rather than rigid style enforcement because there are different levels of investment.
He said, “we must work to ensure our businesses are economic tourism viable, thus creating more
incentives so that there is a real economic reason for an investor to invest in greening.”
“We know what the standards are and so those are things that we must aspire for to make our destination a very competitive one.”
Prof. Gabriel Eshun, Technical Advisor, Ghana Tourism Development Project, said Ghana had a comparative advantage in terms of tourism, however what the country had not done right was to position tourism at the centre of its economic transformation.
He said tourism was the new gold in Ghana hence the need to talk about issues of sustainability, which becomes the blueprint with greening being a subset of it.
He noted that tourism had moved from being called the smokeless industry because it now had some negative impact on the environment.
“Going forward we must engage in practices that would make tourism sustainable to ensure that we
get the reality we are looking for.”
“After this forum we must come out with a communique that would inform the national tourism policy, cultural policy to be developed. So that at the end of the day we can say that these practices will be the best to support the industry.”
Mrs Juliana Bempah, Officer in Charge of Climate Change, Environmental Protection Agency, said tourism produced a lot of emissions based on its various dimensions, from accommodation to food and travel.
She said there should be an emphasis on green incentives, green programmes, modern heating, cooling, and watering systems, using digital technologies to record and report green efforts and use energy more efficiently to reduce carbon emissions.
When these are implemented, about 30 per cent of energy could be saved and emissions would be reduced.
“As an industry, we must strike a balance between the hospitality’s’ contributions to the problem of climate change and their efforts to mitigate it, put in place initiatives within the industry to ensure that a carbon-neutral and sustainable hospitality industry is achieved, and establish “Green Standards and Initiatives” for facilities.
Mr Enimil Ashong, President, Earth Rights, Ghana said the effects of climate change were already becoming evident at various destinations across the world and had also begun influencing decision-making in the tourism sector.
He said with its close connections to the environment and climate itself, tourism was considered to be a vulnerable and highly climate-sensitive economic sector.
He said the future of tourism was at risk, as climate change affects a wide range of environmental resources that were critical attractions for tourists, such as wildlife, biodiversity, water levels and quality, adding that tourism also contributed to the problem, as it was responsible for eight per cent of
the world’s carbon emissions.”
Mr Ashong said, “we believe that there is significant potential in improving carbon efficiency. The use of existing low emission technologies and the implementation of best practices are likely to reduce emissions by 30 to 40 per cent.”
He said that if action was not taken to reduce tourism’s carbon footprint and ensure the industry operated more sustainably, the resulting impacts on the environment and human life would be devastating.