About one million football fans and tourists are expected in Ghana to round off the Jubilee year and usher in the Ghana 2008 football tournament.
This represents an expected incease of about 55 per cent over the arrivals in 2006 when 497,129 tourists visited the country.
Receipts from tourists in 2006 were $987 million and that figure is expected to hit a record high in January 2008.
The Public Relations Manager of the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB), Mr Ben Ohene-Ayeh, who made this known, said the ministry was working closely with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) to ensure that football fans and tourists enjoyed the maximum comfort during their stay.
He said rooms in Five-star to Two-star hotels had increased from 19,967 to 21,159 in the major hosting cities of Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi and Tamale.
According to him, the board was working in close collaboration with the security agencies to provide security, as well as protect the local population from sex tourists, and warned that the board would not hesitate to inform the security agencies about hotels and brothels that were used as sex tourism destinations.
Ohene-Ayeh said the GTB was determined to ensure that tourists who visited the country carried away with them good impressions to enable them return.
An official of the LOC said about 12,000 accredited officials, including media practitioners, were expected to cover the tournament.
In Kumasi, Ghana's second largest city, the hotels are more than ready to play host to the guests.
According to officials of the hotels and the Kumasi Branch of the GTB, all necessary measures, including improved facilities and training of hotel staff, needed to ensure quality services for guests had either been completed or were almost completed to project the image of Kumasi and Ghana as a credible host of the Ghana 2008 festival.
At the Crystal Rose Hotel at Ahodwo, massive renovations had been undertaken to give facilities there a facelift.
The Marketing Manager of the Hotel Group, Mr Enoch Takyi-Mensah, said, “We are on course to playing a leading role in Ghana 2008.”
At the recently completed Crystal Rose Hamilton Court, a new hotel from the Crystal Hotel stock, located off the Ahodwo-Daban Road, the entire place had been refurbished and freshly painted.
At the Miklin Hotel, the General Manager, Mr David Gyekye, said, “We are so ready that even if it starts tomorrow we will not be found wanting.”
Mr Gyekye said a modern gym had been provided, adding that “with meals, our efficient staff are poised to serve our clients with special indigenous meals, as well as Arabian cuisine, Chinese food and other continental dishes to make them feel at home”.
According to the Northern Regional Manager of the GTB, Mr William Ayambire, at the moment the total number of hotel rooms in the metropolis is 800.
“And because of the fear that the rooms may not be enough to accommodate the expected fans, we have gone public to appeal to residents who have decent rooms to spare to come forward for their facilities to be inspected before they hire them out,” he said.
As a result of the limited number of rooms, some representatives of the four teams that will be based in Tamale have began booking for rooms at some of the hotels, such as Mariam and Gariba Lodge.
The four teams are Senegal, South Africa, Angola and Tunisia.
They, together with officials of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), will be accommodated at the newly constructed Three-star status Enhanced Hostel at the University for Development Studies Medical School in Tamale.
Others will also be housed at the newly constructed students' hostel at the Tamale Polytechnic.
In Takoradi, fervent preparations are underway in the Shama Ahanta East metropolis towards the successful hosting of the event in Sekondi, which is one of the four venues for the tournament.
Provision of accommodation, however, seems to stand out as the most prominent among the preparations being made.
Government's efforts at providing accommodation for the teams are being supported by individualss, in line with which Private hoteliers are either putting up new hotels or expanding their facilities to provide more rooms for the fans who will flood the twin-city in January.
According to conservative estimates, about 50,000 football fans are expected to 'invade' Sekondi-Takoradi for the tournament, but the Principal Officer of the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) in the Western Region, Mr Michael Kpingbi, puts the figure at 20,000.
He said about 1,800 hotel rooms had been provided by star-rated and non-star rated hotels in the Shama Ahanta East metropolis and that the GTB had started registering private homes, hostels, as well as unoccupied bungalows and rest houses belonging to some companies, to be used as supplementary accommodation by visitors.