Tamale, Feb 25, GNA - Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City, has called on managers in the hotel industry to maintain a high standard of professionalism to make the industry meet international standards.
He said: "Tourism is now the second largest foreign exchange earner for the country and you must therefore put a touch of professional management techniques and human resource development as part of the curriculum in the hospitality industry to help meet international standards".
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was addressing the Annual General Congress (AGC) of the Ghana Hotels Association (GHA) in Tamale on Friday. The Minister advised hoteliers to separate ownership from management in the running of their business because "you cannot build a hotel and run its affairs as a family business by employing only your children or relatives". He said any hotelier who operated in this manner was bound to fail because he would not be able to take hard decisions or enforce discipline against his own "kith and kin".
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey reminded the hoteliers that they were not in competition with only hoteliers in the country they were also competing with the world.
"You must therefore not put your businesses at risk by failing to provide high quality service to your customers," he cautioned. The Minister said his sector was in the process of reviving the old concept of building catering rest houses in the district capitals where there were no hotel facilities to provide accommodation for tourists and other visitors at affordable prices.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey emphasised the important role Ghanaian music plays in the tourism industry since "it stirs up the spiritual and psychological emotions of the people and make them be attached to certain places where they would regularly want to visit.'' He therefore urged hoteliers to exploit this advantage since "Ghana has a unique advantage over other countries in this regard, adding: Ghanaian musicians should not adulterate the beauty of the country's music".
Alhaji Abu-Bakar Saddique Boniface, the Northern Regional Minister, said there were good prospects for the hotel industry in the region because from a humble beginning of about 13 hotels in 1996 the industry had expanded to 65 by 2005, creating more jobs and expanding incomes especially for the youth.
In 2004, the industry employed 611 people who earned an aggregate of about 2.5 billion cedis as salaries, he said.
Nana Adjei Twinin, National President of the Ghana Hotels Association, stressed the need for the development of more tourist sites and improved access roads to the sites if the country was to achieve the target of one million tourists by the year 2007 with its corresponding receipt of 1.5 billion dollars.
He said the association would join hands with the government to ensure that the disabled were given the opportunity to get employed in the tourism industry.
He said in anticipation of the passage of the Disability Bill, the association had advised its members to provide facilities such as ramps, rails and elevators to enable the physically challenged to have access and free movement into hotels.
Nana Twinin who is also the Managing Director of Mac-Dic Hotel at Koforidua, said as the country was preparing towards the 50th anniversary of its independence and the hosting of the African Cup of Nations tournament "we are appealing to the government to help the association expand its facilities to cope with the expected large number of visitors".
The Association, he said, was putting together a training programme for its employees to enable them to measure up to the challenge.