Accra Feb. 23, GNA - The Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), an umbrella association for 18 trade associations under tourism on Wednesday called on the government to establish a Tourism Development Fund to enable the tourism private sector grow.
Mr Foster Nyarko, President of the Federation, said there was a huge responsibility on the industry to create jobs, especially in the rural areas and while striving to do that and to improve the quality of service to attract the increasing number of visitors, there is the need to develop infrastructure at tourist sites.
GHATOF, an association created to coordinate tourism organizations in the private sector has one main responsibility of lobbying the government for the needed policy and regulatory changes.
Mr Nyarko, speaking at a press conference on the state of Ghana's tourism, said, "The institutional framework for the public and private sector involved in tourism as a whole is fragmented. The legislation governing the institutional framework is outdated and does not allow the private sector to function in the best cost effective manner."
"Our everyday business is subject to various taxes and levies, and items we import are sometimes charged as luxury items even though they are basic necessities for those of us operating in the tourism industry. Clearly current legislation needs to be updated and amended," he said. He said Ghana with a huge tourism potential had not been able to make impressive strides because the Ministry of Tourism is allocated only enough money for their salaries and not for tourism development.
There is the need to create an institutional framework that supports a favourable investment climate and a vibrant tourism sector, Mr Nyarko added The GHATOF President said the ability of tourism to grow was being constrained by administrative factors as well as economic system in the sector.
The Ghana Tourist Board, he said, was not motivated and the private sector had been neglected for a long time, in terms of incentives, tourism fund and lack of marketing of Ghana's tourism potentials abroad. Mr Nyarko said statistics showed that Ghana's visitor number continue to grow, however, the growth was not up to the country's full potential.
"We remain a high cost destination and the cost of doing business in Ghana remains high. Recent analysis of foreign direct investment showed that Ghana has under-performed as compared to other African countries," He called on the media to take time and investigate stories about hotels, cateresses and other people in the industry before publishing stories about them.
"Stories about "chop bar" operators using vultures for meat" and using polluted water should be well investigated before being published. He also urged the media to propagate Ghana's tourism potentials and the level of development it could bring to the country instead of focusing on the negative sides of tourism.
Nana Baah Wiredu, a Tourism consultant, who chaired the function, said without tourism there would be no development in the country. He urged people to take interest in developing tourist attractions near them to encourage development in various districts in the country. Dr. Ayirebi Acquah, a former Minister in the previous government expressed concern about the level of development of tourist attractions in the country.
He urged the government to develop infrastructure that lead to tourist sites, hence encouraging people to be interested in investing in such areas.
He said people should take advantage of what nature has given to the country through tourism.