International tourism has grown extraordinarily in the past 50 years and it is currently one of the most pertinent industries in the world in terms of employment creation for individuals and revenue generation for governments. Governments and non-governmental organizations have therefore increasingly sought to invest in tourism driven poverty reduction initiatives by extensively exploring their tourism potential including those relating to culture.
Africa suffers from record levels of unemployment that are undermining economic growth and worsening poverty across the continent. In this period of rapid urbanisation and continual call for economic diversification in developing countries, it is imperative that all potential income generating avenues are explored.
This paper investigates the relationship between cultural tourism and employment creation. It demonstrates the need to pay more attention to cultural assets due to its potential economic gains. The paper uses a case study from Ahwiaa wood carving village and kente weaving industry at Adanwomase in Kwabre East District in Ghana to showcase the employment creation potential of cultural assets. Using both qualitative and quantitative approaches, about 246 informants participated in the study. The two cultural and touristic activities generated about 14 different employment avenues and employing about 1844 people. Although some of the jobs fetched less income, they constituted the main source of livelihoods for many individuals and households. The paper thus posits that, owing to their economic values, it is prudent for developing nations such as Ghana to package their cultural assets in a way that could attract the attention of the rest of the world.
International tourism has grown extraordinarily in the past 50 years and it is currently one of the most pertinent industries in the world in terms of employment creation for individuals and revenue generation for governments. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that international tourist arrivals and receipts will increase appreciably by the year 2020 especially in least developed countries (UNDP, 2011).
Governments, development agencies and non-governmental organizations have therefore increasingly sought to invest in tourism driven poverty reduction initiatives (Spenceley & Meyer, 2012). These initiatives often emerge from the assumption that tourism can stimulate marginal economies and promote development through job creation and its subsequent income generation and improvement in livelihoods of the poor (Liu & Wall, 2006). However, each country’s experience with tourism may vary partly because of the many forms tourism could take as well as the unique characteristics and abilities of tourist destinations to attract and accommodate people. For this reason, there is yet a disagreement on the exact contribution of tourism since its impact may sometimes be unreliable and unrecognizable. The promotion of tourism as a key development strategy is therefore sometimes contested (Liu & Wall, 2006). However, evidence and available statistics indicate that, a number of developed nations such as Switzerland, Austria, Australia, and France and developing countries such as Egypt and Thailand have accumulated remarkable social and economic welfare based on profits from tourism (UNWTO, 2008, 2011).
Worldwide, it is estimated that tourism related activities provide about 10 % of the world’s income and employs almost one tenth of the world’s workforce. All considered, tourism’s actual and potential economic impact is astounding (Mirbabayev, 2009; Spenceley & Meyer, 2012). Jobs accruing from tourism ranges from the hospitality business, the managers and staff of tourist sites, direct and indirect transportation jobs, artisans in craft related tourism (Liu & Wall, 2006). Tourism may take many forms including health tourism, seaside tourism, mountain tourism, cultural tourism, event and gastronomic tourism, shopping tourism, and business tourism (Kreag, 2001; Liu & Wall, 2006; NCC, 2004; UNWTO, 2013). Cultural tourism, is the point at which culture—the identity of a society, meets tourism—a leisure activity pursued by people with an interest in observing or becoming involved in that society. Categorically, ‘cultural tourism embraces the full range of experiences that visitors can undertake to learn what makes a destination distinctive in terms of its lifestyle, its heritage, its arts, architecture, religion, its people and the business of providing and interpreting that culture to visitors’ (Failte Ireland, 2013, p. 4; OECD, 2009)