A Professor of Tourism at the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Prof. Francis Eric Amuquandoh, has recommended that leisure should be integrated into the development plans of Ghana to improve the quality of life of citizens.
According to him, leisure was one of the essential requirements for excellence, creativity, innovation and invention, and, therefore, urged government to provide the means to enable citizens to participate in it.
In his view, such a plan could serve the entire society in the form of increased productivity, healthy workforce and reduction of crime rate.
Prof. Amuquandoh made these observations while delivering his inaugural lecture on the theme: ”Reflections on the Leisure Situation in Ghana”. He mentioned numerous benefits of leisure on health, education, economic, religion, social, and environmental.
He, therefore, asked for variety of leisure facilities and the availability of leisure champions and role models to stimulate interest of the young ones. He, therefore, commended UTAG and management for extending the Christmas break periods for teaching staff.
Prof. Amuquandoh used the occasion to remind Ghanaians to recognise leisure as a human right enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, citing Article 24 sub-section 2 to buttress his point.
He said through leisure, Ghana could attain Goals 5,10 and 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals. He said leisure at peaceful and quiet places such as the wilderness, sanctuary and water force were associated with spiritual experience growth and development.
“To me searching for God/Allah you don’t need to go far. Just go to the wilderness or sanctuaries and you will get answers,” he remarked
Prof. Amuquandoh mentioned the creation of leisure-related ministries, increase in paid holiday entitlement, winning of awards and recognition, and the expansion and diversification of leisure products as some of the achievements in the field of leisure and tourism. He, however, cautioned against the over concentration of leisure facilities in the southern part of Ghana. He mentioned frequent occurrence of accidents at attraction sites; poor maintenance of the existing leisure facilities and the over emphasis on soccer at the expense of other sports as some gaps militating against the functioning of Ghana’s leisure industry.
The Professor of Tourism subsequently recommended a deliberate state policy led by the Northern Development Authority to address the leisure facility deficit in the northern half of Ghana. He suggested to the Spatial Planning Authority and Environmental Protection Agency to pay detailed attention to engineering, design and safety measures incorporated into leisure facilities.
Furthermore, he called on parliament to pass a law to make it mandatory for all attraction sites and commercial events to be covered by insurance. He suggested increment in the budget of the Ministry of Youth and Sports to enable it to pay attention to other sports and embark on regular maintenance.
He lamented how some school officials and teachers use sports related activities as punishment for deviants or wrong doers, adding that all these are disincentive for leisure and sports. He also advised parents and guardians to disabuse their minds from the misconception that inter school competition was for school dropouts.