Patience Boadu-Amoama, aka Miss B-A is my Guest; a woman with a passion for change in society. She is an ardent reader of the articles on this blog. She shares her general thoughts:
Tourism has long been a passion as I see its multi-sectoral nature as a way to move an economy forward. Having a leisure/fun but serious work environment, Tourism could easily be the BUZZ-industry for the youth of Ghana to aspire to be in, competing with ‘IT and the Banking Sectors.’ Alas!!
My contention however is, real passions do not ever die. They stay with us as we work a life time towards their achievement. It is in this light that I join this discussion by ghhospitality.net. Though I currently work in the Education Sector not related to tourism per se, I can’t wait for this pandemic to go away so I am able to take children and their families on my pbd Travel International Educational Tours once more.
I can’t also wait to see such discussions here on this platform and elsewhere effect the necessary change needed to push our Tourism Industry forward.
HOST: Miss B-A, you are welcome to the platform and thanks for your initial thoughts. Now we can dig deeper.
We live in a global village. The recent past articles on this blog have been on students pursuing education in Hospitality and Tourism. Having taught Tourism in two totally different environments, Papua New Guinea and some colleges in the UK after working with Ghana Tourism Development Company Ltd. several years ago, how would you compare the attitudes of students?
Miss B-A: Students who studied Tourism and Hospitality and its allied disciplines were eager to study and they showed a keen interest during their Work Experience as the industry in both countries-Papua New Guinea and the UK- have vibrant Tourism Sectors (Well, before the pandemic.)
HOST: Travel Sales and Operations and other travel related courses are widely offered by IATA worldwide. Would you concede that travel agency operations for instance is a very specialized area of which our tertiary institutions should not consider venturing into?
Miss B-A: My contention is, due to the practical and highly specialized areas of Travel Sales Operations and other Travel-related courses, any institution at whatever level that offers training, should incorporate a practical training in their delivery. The Airlines and most IATA-licensed Travel Agents should be an integral part of this training for students at whatever level-tertiary or otherwise.
HOST: You practically learnt on the job during your time at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, then the Ministry of Trade and Tourism and the Ghana Tourism Development Company Ltd. considering that your first degree was a BA English and a Diploma in Education. Today, it is asserted that any member of staff in the Tourism Industry of the future would be very different from the one in the past. They would be more educated, more independent, more highly skilled and more marketable. What are your opinions about this?
Miss B-A: Due to the various levels of staff needed in the Tourism Industry, I shall not put an emphasis on ‘more educated’ as that has connotations of higher degrees etc. I may be wrong-but definitely, the acquisition of specialized skills is a MUST-HAVE in the industry of Tourism. It always has been, except the vibrancy and nature of a country’s Tourism has dictated this, in my experience. For example, one may not necessarily need a university degree to be at some levels of Housekeeping and Customer Services departments of the industry, but these are specialized and integral areas of the industry that requires their own sets of skills which unfortunately get overlooked by industry practitioners. (Talk about the Tourist’s experience in a bathroom with hair from a previous occupant!)
A keen eye for detail is a skill acquired in the school of life, not in the walls of any institution.
HOST: The keen eye for detail, for sure; but in respect to one being highly educated, I am just looking at having a good understanding of the use of cleaning chemicals, for example. There are different types of cleaning agents used by housekeepers in private houses and hotels. Each of the cleaning agents has a specific purpose. I have seen Omo used to clean toilet bowls! Just think about the new housekeeping procedures when we had to deal with the coronavirus!
Miss B-A: I could not agree with you more on that perspective. That is a problem in our industry; we could attribute it to the largely-privatized nature of its set-up. I have tried not to hit the nail on its head – so as not to step out of decorum – but there is a lot more that happens in our industry in our part of the world which is as a result of ignorance, saving on cost, sheer arrogance or a combination of all the aforementioned. One may deliver good quality ‘high-Tek Tourism Education’ in all aspects to a student who may work in a Tourism set-up with top-heavy managerial staff (and ownership) who may have their own ideas of how to run a tourism entity. A bane in our industry which needs addressing.
Reading through the testimonies of some new entrants to the industry and their lack of enthusiasm to have a long-stay with us in terms of building their new roles into careers, there may be the need for a study and a swift address of such situations.
Quality Tourism Education is essential for ALL practitioners at ALL levels of a Tourism Industry that is to hold its own in any economy.
HOST: Who should be promoting the tourism sector as a viable career option for potential entrants into the industry and for persons already in it; realizing now, that for many of them, Tourism and Hospitality are transitory job avenues rather than careers?
Miss B-A: If I can go back to my experience in the lecture rooms again, students are eager to study a discipline that brings value to their lives and a good return on investment for their sponsors. The ideal of ‘Education for Education’s sake’ and in this dimension, ‘Tourism Education for Tourism Education’s sake’ will be realized quite far in the distant future. Students and their sponsors alike see studying and the acquisition of skills as a means of getting an individual get on independently-financially-not the least to be mentioned- in their adult life. Thus studying Tourism and Hospitality-related disciplines for an industry which is perceived as second or third-rated (if not further down the line) in comparison to other sectors shall continue to attract students who are ‘in transitory job avenues….’
A direct answer to your question is policy makers. There again, who are they and what level of understanding may they have of such a multi-disciplinary industry? The onus may lie on knowledgeable practitioners like you and some of us to create the awareness which is what I see platforms like this doing.
We may need to up our game this wise.
HOST: Technology is transforming the educational world you and I grew up in. I have been reading about various innovations but what I find most thrilling for now is ‘virtual reality’ which allows students to have hands-on experiences in their field and assist them in feeling prepared for their future careers. How should we manage the likely growing gap in Tourism and Hospitality Education in Ghana with other countries who are exploring technology to the maximum?
Miss B-A: My sincerest view on this matter may sound controversial. As a prelude, why is a tourist leaving their ‘high-Tek ’environment to come to Ghana? What is our product? What are the basics needed to sell that product?
In a dissertation in partial fulfillment for an MSc. In Tourism Marketing (University of Surrey, UK)) I had done some years back, I had postulated Ghana developed our industry with Business and Conference Tourism that will attract specialized tourists. The idea being the industry needed much investment in the sector that governments after governments after governments (!) had not managed to put in. So, yes in that respect Tourism Education will need to be ‘high-Tek’ and highly specialized.
However, we may need to assess the immediate need for that high-Tek and specialized training when embedded in our psyche is such a poor concept of ‘Customer Service’ (to mention just one basic flaw in Ghana’s tourism industry for ages!) and the perception of an industry as ‘a stepping stone’ to others, when indeed it is actually THE cornerstone of industries in other countries.
This is a huge topic and we may want to take off from this point at a later date. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to express my thoughts on one of the issues I hold dear in our country.
HOST: Thank you so, much Miss B-A for these inputs. Indeed, there’s quite a lot to talk about.
NB: Miss B-A resides in the U.K.