10 years on in THE GHANA HOTELS ASSOCIATION

Posted on December 17, 2009

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In follow-up to the last post which indirectly touched on adding value to the Ghana Hotels Association, I write a more in-depth assessment of this association which could exert such a positive influence on the tourism industry if only it could get past certain mindsets.

Are you a member of an association in Ghana? Does the scenario I attempt to describe below reflect your situation.I believe the strength of a democracy lies in the strength of its civil society organizations. For how else can change be effected?

I have been active in the Ghana Hotels Association for a decade now. Oh yes, I have thought many times of quitting, but I’m a persistent ole dog who remains true to my values. One of my values is that if change is to come, it can only come through a concerted action of a group of like-minded individuals, that is civil society organizations. The problem is is that the mission and the vision of the association is not the mission and vision of the members.

On the Ghana Hotels Association’s web site, the mission and vision of the association are clearly stated:

Mission

The Ghana Hotels Association’s Mission is to be unified, effective and instrumental in advocating and shaping policies that promote the Hotel industry; it also provides training and technical assistance to its membership that will strengthen the sector and foster good relationship among members and stakeholders in the Tourism industry.

Vision

To see a vibrant Hospitality sector whereby all Hotels in the country will have qualified/trained personnel who will maintain international standards and offer quality service delivery to tourists and to boost Tourism to become a leading sector of the Ghanaian Economy.

However The Ghana Hotels Association is rooted in agendas not compatible with the issues to forward an industry. Much of the focus of meetings and energies of the membership are devoted to the collection of dues and the representation and contribution at funerals of people associated with the association.

Precisely for this reason, there are so many recalcitrant members and thus so many arrears in dues. Unlike this author, proprietors give up when they see no movement in the association, when the association does not represent the issues of a modern industry, when its head is stuck in the deep sand of tradition.

And who are these proprietors who either quit or don’t join in the first place ? They are the ones who stand so much to lose having constructed modern upmarket establishments that often struggle to survive given the number of new two, three and four star establishments nationwide. They drop out and that leaves the financial burden on the little guys, the budget hotels always in attendance because they are connected to in spirit to the association, the traditions of the association which once was called The Ghana Hoteliers Association. Unfortunately, the association has not made the leap reflected by its new name.

So, limited participation equals reduced coffers. And increased demands for funeral contributions equals limited participation and reduced coffers. It’s a vicious circle. And it’s not only here in Ashanti-see previous post on funerals in Ashanti-this agenda is even forwarded by the National Executive Council.In the last six months, there have been collections of donations for:

1. (get this-imagine) the late mother of a National Trustee

2. our National President, himself a chief, who celebrated his first Akwasidae as the Omanhene of Akim Abuakwa Gyaase Division at Kwabeng

and 3. again for our National President for his bereavement during the funeral of the late Omanhene. That one was for GH C 100.00

Furthermore, all funerals require the necessary presence of representation from the regions and that involves a further drain on scant resources of the regional associations.

Incidentally, I am proud to say that the chairman of the Ashanti Region of the Ghana Hotels Association diplomatically paid half the amount demanded saying the Ashanti Regional Association just could not afford the entire amount.

Change will come, but only if proprietors of upmarket enterprises join the Ghana Hotels Association to tip the balance towards a modern agenda that focuses on the tourism industry and hotels.

In the west we talk about separation of church and state. Here there must come a time when there is a concerted effort to separate tradition from modernity. Then there will be the work of establishing a collaborative atmosphere where people share ideas for the mutual benefit of all… Tradition compromises modern institutions and mission statements and visions are unrealized.

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