Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, has pledged to support the promotion of tourism in the country as a tool for socio-economic development.
He has therefore expressed his happiness towards the positive trend shown in tourism participation by Ghanaians and asked that more could be done to expose the cultural values of the country to the outside world.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu said this in a speech delivered on his behalf by Daasebre Osei Bonsu II, Mamponghene at the first West Africa Tourism Union (WATU) Tourism Fair and Exhibition at the Centre for National Culture (CNC) in Kumasi on Thursday.
He charged the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations to establish a separate secretariat for WATU in the country to enhance its work of promoting tourism in Ghana.
The Asantehene assured the stakeholders of his readiness to provide an office in Kumasi for the secretariat, saying, “Kumasi is a region with rich cultural heritage in promoting tourism in the country”.
Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, praised the effort of WATU in promoting tourism in Ghana and the sub-region as a whole and pledged the support of his ministry to WATU in the attainment of the objective.
He expressed concern about the poor finishing stage of artifacts in the country and advised that much should be done to improve the finishing stage to meet the world market standard.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said the country stood to gain much from tourism in foreign exchange earnings and urged Ghanaians to work together in promoting the rich cultural values of the country.
Nana Prempeh Annin-Bonsu, WATU President, announced that the current seven per cent growth of tourism in the sub-region was a sign of positive response towards the cultural values of Africans.
He said, in respect of the growth there was the need to build on it in reaching higher level next year.
Nana Annin-Bonsu said the sub-region should see tourism as developmental tool for its economy and asked that more investments be channeled to tourism promotion.
Mr Osei Assibey-Antwi, Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, who chaired the function, expressed gratitude to the organizers for hosting the first ever WATU tourism fair in Kumasi since it is at the forefront of tourism in the country.
Ghana, Burkina-Faso, Benin, Togo and Nigeria are participating in the fair and items such as painting works, batik products, pottery, kente cloths and sculpture are on display at the exhibition.