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06.12.2005 Business & Finance

Arts Centre receives poor patronage

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Accra, Dec. 6, GNA - Tourists, who visit the Arts Centre, the biggest tourist attraction in Accra, shy away from shopping at the Centre because some of the traders harass them.

Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City, said on Tuesday citing a research carried out by Dr Bennet Deberry Spence, a tourism consultant.

He said: "Tourists do not enjoy shopping here because they are always being harassed by the traders to buy things from them and that frustrates them to stop buying anything at all." Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was speaking at the opening of "The Masazi Visitor and Welcome Centre" located at the Arts Centre to serve as a resting place and where tourists could access information about the place.

The research showed that all 400 tourists interviewed said they visited the Arts Centre either during the first or last day of their visit to Ghana to see the Ghanaian culture and to buy artefacts. However, the hassling attitude of the traders deterred them from shopping at the Centre, the Minister said, adding that the research also indicated that tourists ended up spending less money than they intended due to the hassling.

Mr Obetsebi-lamptey shared an experience where three buses full of tourists came to the Arts Centre to see the place and to possibly shop from there but the behaviour of the traders and some of the people there scared them so much that they could not get down from the buses. He urged the workers at the Centre to support the new venture and ensure that people, who harassed tourists, were prevented from working there.

He said the Ministry would set up a tourist lavatory, construct the roads and create different entry points at the Centre to make the place more accessible, saying, "there is the need to maximize the potentials of Centre to boost tourists' interest in the place". Professor George Hagan, Chairman of the Commission on Culture, reiterated the need for the traders to support the new venture. He said: "Traders should not see it as a competition but as a supportive venture that would enable businesses at the Arts Centre to thrive."

Prof Hagan noted that Ghana's culture was the only thing that made Ghana a tourist centre, hence the need to preserve it. He expressed the hope that Masazi Visitor and Welcome Centre would be a blessing to the other businesses at the Centre. Dr Spence, who is also the owner of Masazi Visitor and Welcome Centre, said her passion for the Centre over the years had given birth to the new project.

The Masazi Visitor and Welcome Centre would provided a map of the Arts centre to tourists and serve as a guide to tourists to enable them know where to go for what at the Centre.

Dr Spence expressed the hope that the facility would uplift the status of the Centre.

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