Born on February 4, 1946 in Accra, to Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey (a prominent lawyer and politician) and his Dutch wife Margaretha, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey served as Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City 2002-2005 and minster of tourism and diaspora relations 2005-2007, following a change of name of the same ministry.
As minister, Jake brought to bear his knowledge in marketing and communications to rebrand and market Ghana as a preferred tourist destination in Africa. As such, this period saw phenomenal developments in the sector which was hitherto undermined. These developments include:
The Paragliding Festival at Kwahu (2005): Aimed to promote domestic tourism. This festival now sees thousands of both local and foreign tourists troop to Kwahu to partake in paragliding.
The Joseph Project (2007): which sought to reintegrate Africans in the Diaspora into the socio-economic systems of Ghana and Africa.
Formulation of a Five Year Tourism Action Plan (2003-2007): This plan aimed at raking in about 4.5 billion dollars by 2007, and was geared towards putting the necessary infrastructures in place to make Ghana a first choice tourist destination.
Creation of the Tourism Press Corps (August 2003): A special group of journalists were selected to inform and educate the public on tourism and related issues in Ghana.
Introduction of tourism and hospitality programmes of study in more of Ghana’s tertiary institutions to develop tourism human resource. An example is the Bachelor of Arts Degree Programme (Culture and Tourism) introduced in KNUST (2003).
Introduction of the National Chocolate Day (2006): To promote Ghana’s cocoa and consumption of cocoa products among Ghanaians.
Promotion of tourism to be added to Ghana’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (2005).
Jake also facilitated the construction and commissioning of the Assin Manso Slave Mausoleum and Reverential Gardens as Sites of Conscience. As well as the promotion of the Assin Manso Slave Route Project.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries, currently supporting about 284 million jobs globally and contributing about 9.8% of the world’s GDP.
Ghana is relatively one of the world’s most endowed tourist destinations with a wide range of tourism resources in the form of unique cultural, natural, heritage and historical resources. Even at the current level of these undeveloped resources, Ghana receives about 4.5% of GDP from tourism and the sector is currently the nation’s fourth largest foreign exchange earner.
One can imagine Ghana’s benefit today with Jake as Tourism Minister.
Columnist: Edem Ativor