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08.07.2005 Business & Finance

Reduce high airfares - Jake

By GNA

Accra July 8, GNA - Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City has urged travel and tour operators to reduce the high airfares to enable Ghana to get a bigger tourism market in the sub-region. He said charging affordable competitive prices would increase the number of people that patronize travel services and increase profits.

Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey said this at the launch of a partnership between Ghana Tours, a United Kingdom-based chartered flight operator and Astraeus a British airline.

The Minister noted that one problem faced by the tourism industry in Ghana was that it is a high cost destination, hence the Ministry's decision to encourage charter flights that operated at cheaper rates. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey told the management of Ghana Tours and Astraeus, "we want to help you to make money and that could be done by offering fares priced at a level of that of a competitive route." He commended Ghana tours for its contribution to tourism development in Ghana and urged the management to keep flight going all throughout the year.

Mr. Emmanuel Bani of the Ghana High Commission in London cautioned that Astraeus should not be seen as a competitor of any of the other airlines flying Ghana, rather, it should be seen as carving a niche for itself as a low cost scheduled carrier. "For Ghanaians in the UK, Ghana Tours could not have appeared on the scene at a better time. It has come at a time when airline fares to Ghana by some major international carriers have risen astronomically in both peak and off-peak seasons and in the absence of a national airline, he said. Ghana needs a scheduled low cost carrier flying with constant regularity throughout the year", he added.

Mr Bani commended Ghana Tours for the good work recalling, that, it was Ghana Tours in collaboration with other British authorities, which ensured the successful evacuation of tourists and travellers when a lot of travellers were stranded in Ghana. Mr Peter Cox, Head of Sales at Astraeus, said the airline and Ghana Tours were committed to developing and servicing all sectors of the Ghana - UK market. "It cannot be denied that today travellers between Ghana and the UK have greater choice at cheaper prices than ever before. As prices fall so the market expands and this is particularly true of the cost conscious tourism sector," he said.

Mr Cox said one strategy that had been adopted was the formation of a long-lasting relationship with travel companies hence the partnership with Ghana Tours. Being price competitive, operating on days and time people want to travel and being punctual and efficient, he said were some of the strategies his organization had adopted to retain its passengers. Ghana had a wealth of historical and environment interest as well as the quality of hotel infrastructure to compliment it, he said.

Mr Cox said the development of tourism was the key objective of Astraeus and Ghana Tours. "Astraeus have a very clear commitment to being at the forefront of developing and growth markets and strongly believe in the vast potential of West Africa and Ghana in particular," he said.

Mr Anthony Ogunseitan, Managing Director of Ghana Tours, said his company provided logistics and exposure abroad for the Ghana Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism as it had brought international television crews for documentaries about Ghana. Ghana Tours, he said, had contributed to the tourism industry by making airlines more customer friendly.

The new airline shared the vision of promoting tourism, he said and explained that Monday flights were for the promotion of tourism in conformity with charter regulations. Astraeus currently employs 360 people of whom over 300 are aircrew. Mr Dan Agyemang of the Ghana High Commission in London, launching the in-flight magazine of Astraeus said the name of the magazine "Sky High" speaks for itself.

The magazine, published by Trans African Publishing Company would contribute to the travel and tour industry by promoting tourism in Ghana, as it would feature one tourist site in every edition.

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