26.05.2005 Travel & Tourism

Ghana Earns $800m From Tourism

By Graphic/GNA
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Ghana earned $800 million from tourists who visited the country in 2004. During the same year, 180,000 jobs were created in the formal and informal sectors.
Mrs Bridgit Katsriku, the chief director of the Ministry for Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, said 650,000 tourists contributed to last year's earnings.
She said by the end of this year, 760,000 tourists would have visited the country and that their visit would generate about $1 billion. She said the tourist arrivals would create 220,000 jobs this year.
According to her, the five-year strategic tourism development plan was aimed at attracting one million tourists to Ghana each year from 2007 in order to generate $1.5 billion revenue.
There are, however, growing concerns that the castles in Cape Coast and Elmina have dominated the industry and that the flow of tourists is not evenly spread across the country.
While the Government, UNESCO and a private firm, Urban Solution, are working in Elmina to make the town a holiday destination, the hotel industry, through a variety of programmes, is working hard at training more staff to add professional appeal and approach to their work. Ministry of Tourism strengthens ties with Tourism Federation Accra, May 26, GNA - The Ministry of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City is in the process of bridging the communication gap between it and the Private Sector, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the Sector Minister, said on Thursday.
He called on tour operators to be actively involved with the Ministry to enable them to understand what the sector was doing to help tourism development.
He was speaking at a meeting in Accra with members of the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), an umbrella organisation of 18 trade associations, to evaluate the performance of the industry and share views on how to make it viable.
The meeting, which is the first of its kind between the Sector Ministry and the Private Sector, brought together tour operators, restaurant and bar operators and other tourism related businessmen and women.
He said the Private Sector must be committed to the delivery of quality services to be able to attain standards of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Reacting to complaints by the Private Sector that licensing fees for hotels charged by the Ghana Tourist Board were high, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said the fees were to ensure that hotels maintained high standards.
"Low charges mean low hotel standards which is not good for the industry; hotels will lose businesses if standards are low but remember if something is worth it, it is worth paying for," he noted.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said human resources development and capacity building programmes to help boost the image of the industry were being implemented, adding that the Ministry had acquired Hotel EREDEC in Koforidua as a hotel school to train those in the hospitality industry. He said the Ministry had started a tour guide-training programme and was facilitating exchange programmes involving Ghana, Morocco and Egypt.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said the Ministry was also working with appropriate agencies to develop roads, electricity and water and to provide better communication systems at tourist sites. He expressed the hope that the Ministry would develop an effective ICT tool to promote tourism and embark on vigorous marketing of tourist sites abroad.
"We will develop a communication machinery that will promote tourism in Ghana and explore funding sources," the Minister said. Mr Foster Nyarko, President of GHATOF, said there was a huge responsibility on the industry to create jobs, to improve the quality of service to attract the increasing number of visitors and develop infrastructure at tourist sites.
He said the ability of tourism to grow was being constrained by administrative and economic factors.
"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, the 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 was allocated only enough money for salaries and not for tourism development.
Mr Nyarko said the Ghana Tourist Board should motivate the Private Sector with incentives and market Ghana's tourism potentials abroad. Mr Ate Ofosu-Amaah, Technical Adviser at the Ministry for Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiative, said attempts were being made to support the Private Sector in the tourism industry. He said the general environment for doing business in the sector would be improved and GHATOF members should put in place projects that would enable communities to benefit from tourist sites in their areas. 26 May 05

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