The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) began a three-month French language training programme for premium frontline hospitality personnel and industry players on Monday.
The project seeks to improve the ability of industry players to attract tourists from the subregion and beyond, as well as provide hotels with multilingual staff who will be receptive to French speakers.
The initiative is part of the Ghana Cares "Obaatanpa" Programme's Tourism Sector Skills Revitalization Project.
Mr Ben Anane Nsiah, GTA's Deputy Chief Executive Officer in Charge of General Services, stated that following the industry's reaction to COVID-19the GTA established a new push to promote domestic tourism, with a renewed emphasis on regional tourism.
He said that since the West African subregion was largely Francophone, it was important to offer front-line employees skills to ensure that people from French-speaking countries felt comfortable when visiting Ghana
"Any serious tourism destination that thinks about their target as the whole world thinks of making everybody feel welcomed, and Ghana is one."
Mr Nsiah stated that one of the criticisms levelled against Ghana as a destination for travellers is that everyone must speak Englishwhich does not enhance the country's tourism position
"Our French-speaking neighbours do not feel welcomenot because we do not have programmes that they are interested inbut because our front-line personnel are incapable of making the basic conversation that would make someone feel welcome to the destination."
The country's strategic goal is to receive two million inbound tourists this year, and the regional component must also be considered
Mr Alian Ferolle MboungouCoordinator of myfelp.com, the consulting platform for the training, stated that the program will assist practitioners in learning French.
"We will start with the quick look at the basic language before diving into French for hospitality. In addition to that we intend to give them free access to our online content so they can learn more online while we also pursue our in-person sessions here"
He expressed hope that by the end of the session, participants will be able to speak French well enough to interact with French- speaking clients and make them feel at ease.
Mr Richard Agyenim Boateng, Co-Ordinator,GhanaCARES Obatanpa ProgrammeGTA Section, stated that the initiative was designed to help practitioners in the sector overcome issues following the COVID-19 epidemic
He said a series of training courses had earlier been held in areas like customer services, digital marketing, and tourism product knowledge to build the capacity of tourism practitioners.
"In all we are supposed to train 500 people across the country and it's in models, 100 people in five sessions, for three months, t a week, two hours per day and after the three months the people should be able to offer best customer service in the area of French."
Some participants expressed excitement about the training, saying it would go a long way to project their facilities into the international space and create an environment for more French-speaking people to patronize their services.