Accra Feb. 24, GNA - Government has allocated 24.024 billion cedis to the Ministry of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City out which 2.5 billion cedis would be a retained Internally Generated Fund component.
The amount is to enable the Ministry to carry out its programmes and activities for 2005.
Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in a Budget Statement to Parliament, said in addition to all the allocations mentioned in the sector presentations "there will be more allocations from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Fund targeted towards sectors."
He said: "Tourism as the fastest growing industry worldwide and a tool for poverty reduction for many countries had the potential to become a powerful tool in pro poor development strategies. "This potential can, however, be realized if the economic and social development strength of tourism are effectively mobilized to create wealth and fight poverty."
Outlining the Ministry's programmes for the year under the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), the Finance and Economic Planning Minister said; "the sector will continue with the construction of Tourist Receptive Facilities at attractive sites to improve visits and spending, thereby creating employment and income in the communities. "There will also be the establishment of Land Banks, at 14 priority sites to promote private sector investment in tourism and thus generate employment and income."
In addition 1,500 skilled and unskilled personnel in the hospitality industry would be trained to improve service delivery. Other activities to be undertaken by the Ministry included the establishment of Tourism Development Fund, to make funding accessible and available for both public and private sector investment in tourism.
The Minister said the Ministry would start the Joseph Project, a strategic project aimed at making Ghana the Gateway to the Homeland for the more than 40 million Africans in the Diaspora Mr Baah-Wiredu said contracts would be awarded for the regeneration of Old Accra, Bukom Square and James Town Old Harbour to promote tourism and investment.
Completion of the establishment of Tourism Satellite Account, to allow an accurate measurement of the Tourism Sector, the nature of demand and supply for tourism and contribution of tourism to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is also a target to be completed by the Ministry this year.
Mentioning major achievement of the Ministry towards the achievement of the overall objective of transforming the rural economy under the GPRS in year 2004, Mr Baah-Wiredu said the Ministry of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City constructed four receptive facilities, which created about 700 jobs in the Assin Manso, Nkroful, Atibie and Oda.
Work towards the establishment of a Tourism Satellite Account Project had begun and was steadily progressing, he said.
There was also the licensing of four charter flights, which are currently in operation and were helping in making flights to Ghana more accessible and affordable.