President Nana Akufo-Addo Wednesday launched a $10 million Tourism Grant to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to transform the tourism sector and stimulate economic growth.
The Grant is being provided by the International Development Association of the World Bank Group to support Ghana's Government's Tourism Development Project, an initiative to improve tourism performance, upgrade tourism sites and capacities of players in the sector and increase tourism revenues.
The grant will revitalize the tourism sector that has been heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 1,500 SMEs are expected to benefit from the arrangement, which will target mostly women who are majority of the operators in the sector.
Speaking at the launch of the Grant in Accra, President Akufo-Addo said the disbursement of the Grant is in line with the government's efforts to support SMEs in the Tourism and Arts value chain to recover quickly from impact of the COVID 19 pandemic and help create jobs for the people.
He noted that the hospitality and creative arts sectors were a significant part of the national economy adversely affected by the pandemic, resulting in a 75 per cent decline in international tourism arrivals in 2020 and a 45 per cent reduction in 2021.
Thus, it was imperative that the requisite support is offered the sector to drive recovery, he said.
The President said that the Government's comprehensive handling of the pandemic and the introduction of tourism-specific measures was enabling the rebound of the sector.
The Government, he said, was committed to building a conducive business environment that enhances entrepreneurship to drive economic activity and transform the fortunes of the country.
“Government remains committed to ensure that the private sector is able to function effectively by building an ecosystem that creates opportunities for businesses to grow and create jobs for the youth,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo charged players in the tourism, hospitality, and creative arts sectors to institute good corporate governance practices in their businesses to attract investors.
"Even though Ghana can boost of several well-round companies that have demonstrated commitment to good corporate governance, poor corporate governance has been sighted as the major factor that has led to the collapse of many businesses in the country".
"As Ghanaian companies compete globally to attract foreign investment partnerships, they must be guided by the fact that investors are prepared to pay a premium for shares in a well governed company.
"The onus is thus on business owners to position their businesses properly for foreign investment by ensuring that they implement and practice good corporate governance," he advised.
The President commended that World Bank for supporting the Ghana Tourism Development project.
“We continue to value the partnership of the World Bank in our development journey, “he said.
The Country Director of the World Bank, Pierre Laporte said the funding for the tourism development project by the institution was a sign of growing relations between Ghana and the World Bank.
He said the project was a perfect vehicle through which Ghana can grow its economy in the face of the global recession and charged grant recipients to apply the funds wisely.
Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture reiterated the government's commitment to resource the tourism sector to enable it to contribute effectively to national transformation and growth
He called on industry players to take advantage of the grant, access it and use the funds judiciously to grow their businesses.