Accra, Dec. 13, GNA - Restaurant operators have been challenged to prepare and serve chocolate deserts to promote Ghana's cocoa. Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City, said next year's tourism awards would recognize and give prizes to restaurants producing the best chocolate desert.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, speaking at the launch of the Seventh National Tourism Awards scheduled for July 2006, appealed for support for the initiative to make chocolate deserts made in Ghana famous product of the hospitality industry. "I want our industry to take chocolate and own it. Today, if you say chocolate, people think Belgium and Switzerland. I want them to also think Ghana," he said. The Minister noted that Ghana was a cocoa-producing country and was famous worldwide for its premium quality cocoa. The award ceremony is aimed at celebrating the achievements of tourism practitioners whose efforts are key factors for sustainable tourism.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey called for support for the promotion and marketing of tourism programmes. "I will like to appeal to our financial institutions, airlines, travel agents, tour operators and other private sector operators to help to develop the tourism industry."
Mr Martin Mireku, Acting Executive Director of the Ghana Tourist Board, said the awards would help to facilitate public-private sector partnership in a bid to market and harness the country's tourism potentials. "One way of building this partnership is to recognize the immense contribution being made by the private sector, hence the attempt to enhance the award scheme," he said. He announced that the Board had introduced few innovations to make the event attractive and acceptable to the private sector. These include the selection of winners by an independent panel of judges with various backgrounds.
An advisory board has also been established to advise the event managers, the Global Media Alliance. "Every effort would be made to ensure quality standards and service delivery as we move towards making Ghana a preferred tourism destination." Mr Edward Boateng, Managing Director of the Global Media Alliance, said the awards would be categorized into accommodation, travel services, entertainment and catering services, which would be competed for at the regional and national levels. Other award categories that would be given only at the national level include, the Airline of the Year award, Tourism Journalists award, Best Visitor attraction and the Best Tour Guide.
Mr Boateng noted that if tourism in Ghana were well developed, it could generate a lot of job opportunities for the youth and called on corporate organizations to support the industry. Mr Foster Nyarko, President of the Ghana Tourism Federation, who chaired the function, said he supported the Minister's initiative and added that restaurants which served chocolate as their welcome drinks should also be given awards. He expressed happiness about the public-private partnership but called for extra involvement of the private sector especially when selecting award winners.