A Tourism Capacity Development Initiative (TCDI) project has been launched in Accra. The $4.8m project, which is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with technical support from the Georgia State University, aims at strengthening the capacity of stakeholders in the tourism sector as a means to attract tourists to Ghana.
The Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, who launched the project, said although the 15-year National Tourism Development Plan has chalked up a number of successes, there is the need for a redirection in the tourism sector to enable the sector to meet new trends in the global tourism sector.
Consequently, he announced that the government has set new targets for the tourism sector to make it the leading economic sector by the year 2007.
He mentioned some of the targets as increasing annual tourist arrivals to one million by the year 2007, making tourism the leading employment industry in the formal sector as well as the second leading foreign exchange earner for the country.
Obetsebi-Lamptey, therefore, cautioned the management of TCDI against re-inventing the wheel and to avoid over-ambitious tasks that will not make the project sustainable.
“Our priority is implementation, our focus is results,” he said. He expressed gratitude to the USAID for its continued support for the tourism sector in the country.
The Mission Director of the USAID, Ms Sharon Cromer, said the objective of the project is to provide technical assistance and training to improve the capacity, quality and performance of the tourism industry.
She said the TCDI project, which is scheduled to last for 16 months, will facilitate the building of a public/private partnership that contributes to tourism-led economic growth as part of Ghana’s ongoing poverty alleviation and wealth creation efforts.
Ms Cromer observed that Ghana has tremendous tourism potential, which, if developed, can create thousands of jobs for the youth as well as earn foreign exchange for the country.
The Associate Dean of the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, Fenwick Huss, said Ghana is endowed with a magnificent natural beauty, rich culture and beautiful festivals, which are valuable assets that can earn handsome returns.
He pledged the university’s full support and commitment to the project, adding, “We want to make Ghana one of the world’s most sought for tourist destinations.”