Industry players say Ghana, as a tourist destination, has increasingly become unattractive.
This is because it has been described as an expensive destination compared to Dubai and her peers on the continent.
They said a myriad of issues, including high taxes, rising cost of fuel leading to high air and vehicle fares, huge utility bills, increasing prices of goods and services, and high exchange rates, making Dubai, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa preferable destinations.
At Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) stakeholder forum to strategies and place tourism related advertisements in the Nigerian media, it was revealed that the number of tourists from Africa, particularly Nigeria had dwindled.
It is estimated that just one per cent of Nigeria's population totaling about two million into the Ghanaian tourism market would generate so much income for the sector and increase the sector's contribution to Ghana's GDP.
President Akufo-Addo, on April 3, 2022, launched a forty-million-dollar ($40million) project, the “Destination Ghana”, in London, United Kingdom, with the objective of inviting the rest of the world to visit Ghana, and expected to position the tourism and hospitality sectors as key drivers of socioeconomic development.
"Some of the benefits that the project is expected to bring are an enriched access to Ghana's tourism market, better provision of tourism products and services, and the upgrading of skills in the labour force in the tourism, arts, and culture sector,” the President said.
Mr Edwards Nyameke-Ackah, President, Ghana Hotels Association, however, noted that, " hotel rates are very high, travel costs are very high; we pay VAT, taxes like the COVID-19 tax, GETFund and royalties. We also pay levies like the NHIS, Tourism Development Levy and cost of operation added."
" There are fees and charges we pay to the regulatory bodies like EPA, FDA, GSA, Ghana Fire Service, the Assemblies and the huge maintenance costs. I am struggling to appreciate exactly where we want to place tourism in our national development," he said.
Miss Evelyn Bawah, Senior Travel Consultant, MH Travels, said, the high travel cost was crippling airline business, adding that "before recently, one could pay between Ghc 2,000 and 3,000 for Accra to Lagos but now one pays Ghc 7,000.”
Mr George Ayisi, Sales Manager, Labadi Beach Hotel, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said, "the cost is not just from the hotels but also from the government if you look at the taxes, surcharges and fees there, it makes Ghana an expensive destination to sell."
The forum was an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and World Bank to work out strategies of promoting regional tourism, with Now Available Africa and Three Keys as consulting agencies to help drive traffic in the sector.
Madam Alisa Osei Asamoah, President, Tour Operators Union of Ghana, said, the complaints about Ghana being an expensive destination were not only from foreign nationals and that Ghanaians also saw the cost of domestic tourism to be expensive.