Koforidua, Aug. 23, GNA - Ghana's pursuit to earn 1.5 billion dollars annually from the tourism industry by the year 2007 would be a mirage unless concerted and immediate steps are taken to redress issues such as the high tax regime, poor human resource base and inadequate investment in the sector, Nana Adjei Twinin, National President of the Ghana Hotels Association (GHA), has said.
Nana Twinin, who made the observation, said with almost 70 per cent of workers in the industry lacking the requisite skills to deliver as well as a "stifling tax regime", the industry was "indeed in throes that ought to be remedied".
He was speaking at a collaborative seminar for hotel proprietors in the Eastern Region at Koforidua on Tuesday organized jointly by the Ghana Tourist Board and the Ghana Hotels Association.
Nana Twinin appealed to government to simplify the multi-taxes imposed on hoteliers since that was adversely affecting their activities, saying hotel operators currently paid as much as ten different taxes.
He said in addition to improving the human resource base and overhauling the tax regime, there was the need for an increased private-public partnership to improve on hospitality facilities in the country, saying that it should be possible for the regions to have three-star hotel facilities.
Another nagging problem facing the industry, he said was the raw nature of most tourist facilities in the country, noting that the state of affairs was hampering the objective of policy-makers to generate so much resources from tourism by the target date of 2007.
Miss Susan Mensah, Deputy Eastern Regional Minister, assured hoteliers of government's preparedness to help find solutions to problems confronting the industry.
Government, she assured, would do all it would take to ensure that the tourism industry became a top-most foreign exchange income earner through collaborative efforts.
This, she said, was in view of the fact that tourism not only helped to generate income but that it had also become an important conduit for developing infrastructure in the rural areas and thereby serve as a means to alleviating poverty.
The Deputy Minister, however, appealed to hotel operators to pay more attention to the training needs of their staff so as to raise their standards to meet international requirements.
The Eastern Regional Manager of the Ghana Tourist Board, Mr Sampson Donkoh, said his outfit was making strenuous efforts to help thaw the frosty relationship between his outfit and the hoteliers, which got strained through some policies by his predecessor.