Ghana wants to learn from the Canary Islands’ experience in tourism

Ghana busca aprender de la experiencia turística de Canarias

“We want to see how our relationship can develop culturally, diplomatically and economically”, explained the minister of the Western Region of Ghana, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, this morning in the courtyard of Casa África during the first day of the 1st Spain-Ghana Tourism and Trade Forum.

During the opening ceremony of this initiative, which begins today and ends on Saturday, Darko-Mensah said that “Ghana is the most peaceful country in Africa”, the first in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve independence, headquarters of the African Free Trade Agreement and “the place to go when you want to do business in Africa.” “We are number one in democracy and accountability”, continued the minister, before saying that they want to ensure that “whatever project comes out of this meeting has a rapid impact so that it can also be evaluated.” “Spain has not been very active in English-speaking African countries”, he concluded, before offering himself as a gateway to the English-speaking area of Africa with positive outcomes for all parties.

This meeting is being hosted at the diplomatic institution’s headquarters today and tomorrow. It is organised by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Navigation of Gran Canaria; Canary Consulting & Trading; and Africa Mentoring Development Consortium (UAMDC) with the collaboration of Casa África. A delegation of some thirty authorities, senior officials, diplomats and businesspeople travelled to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for this occasion, headed by Minister Darko-Mensah.

The meeting aims to strengthen institutional relations with the country and promote the role of the Canary Islands as a platform for business with Ghana. Attendees include the Deputy Director General for Cooperation and Competitiveness in Tourism, Antonio Nieto; the Ghanaian Ambassador to Spain, Elizabeth Adjei; the Spanish Ambassador to Ghana, Alicia Rico; the President of the European Business Organization Ghana (EBO-Ghana), Celestino Álvarez-Neira; and the Secretary General of the Spain-Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Ingrid Asensio. The opening ceremony was attended by the Secretary General of the Chamber of Commerce, Luis Padrón; the Minister of the Economy, Knowledge and Employment of the Government of the Canary Islands, Carolina Darias; the President of the Island Council of Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales; the Minister Darko-Mensah and the Director General of Casa África, José Segura

During her presentation of this forum to the media, Councillor Carolina Darias highlighted the importance of this public-private initiative as “a fantastic opportunity to deploy the effects of the Canary Islands Government’s operational strategy of economic transition”. She said that “Countries such as Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Cape Verde are already objectives for the Canary Islands”, and confirmed the government’s wish to support and advise business people from the Canary Islands in their work with these markets and new African markets. The Councillor talked about specific projects, facilitators in the field, and training in issues such as tenders. She also stressed that Canary Islands companies are competitive in tourism, renewable energy and all aspects of R & D and new technologies.  

President Antonio Morales highlighted the creation of the Best in Gran Canaria brand, which brings together public institutions, universities and companies to enable the internationalisation of the economy of Gran Canaria and the flow of investment and knowledge between the islands and other partner destinations, such as Ghana. He said “We have turned our eyes to Africa and we are working with different countries. If there is anything that we can transfer to both Latin America and Africa, it is our experience in tourism.” Morales stressed the importance of maritime and air connectivity and said that all the public institutions of the Canary Islands are moving in the same direction. “There is a great deal of uncertainty about tourism in our country,” continued the head of the Island Council of Gran Canaria, referring to Brexit and the fall of German and Nordic tourism. He concluded, “It is important to create links and generate reciprocal investments with Africa and other potential partners.” 

Finally, the director general of Casa África, José Segura Clavell, said that the Spanish government’s strategic plan in relation to West Africa involves scientific, technological, cultural and economic links with the countries in the area and that in this plan Ghana is one of the priority countries. “We haven’t removed anything, we’re only adding more”, stressed Segura, who reinforced the messages expressed by Darias and Morales regarding the capacity and experience of the Canary Islands and Spain in tourism and technology, and the importance of increasing connectivity between Africa and Spain via sea and air.

At the opening ceremony, the secretary general of the Chamber of Commerce of Gran Canaria, Luis Padrón, stressed that a whole delegation of businesspeople and officials from Ghana had travelled to Gran Canaria to learn about its experience both in tourism and in the commercial arena. He also pointed out that it is a great opportunity for businesspeople from the Canary Islands to have access to this country, whose economy in 2019 is the fastest growing in the world according to the International Monetary Fund.

The event includes two days of lectures, presentations, business meetings and round tables. After the institutional inauguration, Antonio Nieto gave a talk on Spain’s competitive world leadership in tourism, followed by round tables on the situation of tourism in the Canary Islands and the connectivity of the Canary Islands with West Africa by air.

Thursday’s event was completed with the presentation of Best in Gran Canaria, from the Island Council of Gran Canaria and the Canary Islands Special Zone (ZEC) and with meetings organised by the Chamber of Commerce. The first round table has representatives from PROEXCA, PROMOTUR and the Gran Canaria Tourist Board, while the second table, in which the minister Darko-Mensah is participating, includes representatives from AENA, Binter Canarias and the World Aviator Group. Friday’s events include a conversation between ambassadors Adjei and Rico on Ghana’s tourism strategy and its challenges. There will also be two other round tables, this time on business opportunities in Ghana and digital transformation and training in tourism.

Ingrid Asensio and representatives of the companies Golden Empire Legacy and Will Engineering will participate in the first round table. The second round table will include representatives of HECANSA, Turisfera, the Clúster Canarias Excelencia Tecnológica and Ghanaian companies. This activity is supported by the many companies and institutions who have collaborated, including the Government of Spain, the Canary Islands Executive, the Island Council of Gran Canaria, the SPEGC, the City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Casa África itself. Sponsors include the Port Authority of Las Palmas, PROEXCA, the Spain-Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Binter, Lopesan, EIB Network and Barceló.



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