The Minister for Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng has said that, inspite of the many infrastructural, legal and service problems that bedevil the tourism industry, it was gradually assuming its rightful place in the economic development of the country.
He has assured the people that his Ministry would not relent on its efforts in developing all tourist sites to an appreciable standard to attract more tourists into the country.
Mr Asamoah-Boateng said this at the opening of the Fourth Ferdinand Ayim Paragliding Festival at Atibie in the Kwahu South district in the Eastern Region on Easter Friday.
The paragliding festival was introduced by the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora relations in collaboration with the Tourism Development Board and the Kwahu South District Assembly in 2005 at Atibie.
It is held during the Easter festivities and has become an annual festival, which attracts people from all walks of life.
Mr Asamoah-Boateng said if the tourism industry is well developed, it would serve as a major source of revenue and urged district assemblies to partner with companies and individuals to develop their tourist sites to generate more revenue to undertake development projects.
The Minister for Defence, Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, who was the special guest of honour, said tourism arrivals saw an increase of 16 per cent in 2007 over 2006, as inflows in 2007 hit a little under one billion dollars, adding that, Ghana's strides however still had a long way to go compared to other popular destinations in Africa.
He observed that, the diversification of tourism products would go a long way to enhance the nation's ability to attract the appropriate levels of tourists that would propel the country to reach the height others have reached.
Mr Dapaah said it would also help to reduce poverty, create jobs and wealth and also accelerate the nations desire to become a middle income country by 2015.
Mr Dapaah urged tourism operatives to seize the opportunities provided by government in the tourism sector to increase their income.
He observed that, the achievements in the tourism industry over the years was as a result of peace, political stability, freedom of movement and the economic development process under the current Government and assured that the security apparatus in the country would put the necessary security in place to protect tourists, who visit the country.
The Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Afram-Asiedu said the region was endowed with immense tourism resources such as the famous Aburi Botanical Gardens, Bunso Arboretum, the Atiwa forest, the Volta Lake, the mountains of Akuapim and Kwahu and the Boti, Begoro and Akaa Waterfalls.
The Regional Minister paid tribute to Mr Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, former Minister for Tourism, the late Mr Ferdinand Ayim and the former District Chief Executive for Kwahu South, Mr Raymond Osafo Djan, through whose initiatives the paragliding festival came into existence.
This year's festival attracted 25 pilots from South Africa, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, United States of America, Togo and Canada. The Deputy Minister for Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Mr Kofi Osei Ameyaw took part in the flight.