Accra June 21, GNA - Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, on Monday called on Italian investors to take advantage of Ghana's tourism potentials and the diversity of its products to invest in the Sector.
He said, even though, tourism was an infant industry in Ghana, the Government had made it one of the main pillars of economic growth and a catalyst for job creation and wealth generation.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was speaking to the Ghana News Agency about a two-day investment forum on Ghana's Tourism he opened in Rome, Italy, over the weekend.
The forum had the theme: "Ghana, Africa's Best Kept Tourism Secret, with a sub-theme: Tourism in Ghana: A Market in Constant Growth, an Oopportunity for Italian Business and Companies."
The forum also sought to educate Italians on the need to visit Ghana and experience the excitement of its attractions both for tourism and investment.
The Minister said foreign exchange receipts from tourism had grown by 33 per cent to reach 600 million dollars, a figure expected to increase by 800 million dollars this year and to 1.5 billion dollars by 2007.
He said South Africa and Ghana were the two fastest growing tourism destinations in Africa, with Ghana's rate at 12 per cent. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said currently Ghana had 33,566 hotel room capacity, 466 restaurants, 85 car hire companies and 338 travel and tour agencies adding that Ghana served as the gateway to the 250 million people that constituted the Economic Community of West African Stats (ECOWAS) market with an assurance of safety and security for investment. He mentioned accommodation, entertainment, tourism, transport, beach and inlands resort as some of the areas ready for investment in Ghana.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, however, expressed concern that Ghana's 540 kilometres stretch of beach, could only boast of only a dozen of resorts while the potential of the Volta River and the fishing industry, remained untapped.
He said Mr Carlo Giovanardi, Italy's Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Government Programme, pledged Italy's commitment to assist Ghana to deepen its democracy and develop its economy.
Mrs Ruth Nyakotey, Deputy Chief Executive of Ghana Investment Promotion Council: Mr Andy Appiah-Kubi, Deputy Executive Director of the Ghana Free Zones Board; Mr Foster Nyarko, President of the Ghana Tourism Federation; Mr Ferdinand Ayim, Special Assistant to the Minister and Mr Jonnie Moreau of the Ghana Association of Travel and Tour Agents accompanied the Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey.