Tourism contribution to the county's total export earnings increased from 650 million US dollars in 2004 to almost 800 million dollars in 2005.
Mr Charles Osei-Bonsu, Acting Deputy Executive Director of the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) in-charge of Finance and Administration, announced this at the 7th Western Regional Tourism Awards Day at Nkroful on Saturday.
The Day was on the theme: "Rewarding Excellence in Tourism". Mr Osei-Bonsu said: "It is projected under the 5-year Strategic Action Plan that tourist arrivals will increase to one million with a corresponding projected earnings of one point five billion dollars by 2007".
He said the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporean Relations and the GTB were vigorously pursuing recreational, historical, heritage and community based tourism development in the Region. Mr Osei-Bonsu said the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission was pursuing development initiatives at the Ankasa Park including the provision of range camps, a modern park headquarters, infrastructural camps for tourists, educational visitors and researchers as well as an extensive road network and an interpretational centre. He said the Bia National Park was currently receiving assistance from the European Union under the second phase of the Protected Areas Development Programme.
Mr Osei-Bonsu said the Nzulezu village and the Wassa Dormaman eco-sites were also receiving equal attention adding that the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporean Relations was to establish an industry-led training system for the tourism and hospitality sectors to equip them to meet the challenges.
He said an accreditation system would be introduced to regulate training in the two sectors, as both public and private training providers would satisfy accreditation requirements before they were allowed to train personnel in the industry.
Mr Osei-Bonsu said continuing education and training of staff would also be a condition for licensing in the tourism sector. He said the government had voted funds for the expansion and upgrading of training facilities at the Hotel, Catering and Tourism Training Institute (HOTCATT) to increase intake and enable the Institute to offer skill and competency based training to enhance quality service delivery.
Mr David Yaro, Regional Coordinating Director, said strategies must be adopted to tap the numerous tourism potentials in the Region. He said tourism marketing and promotional efforts should not be limited to the country's traditional markets but should be extended to other areas such as the Far East and Asia.
Mr Yaro said there was the need to put in place plans to tap the huge tourism market in China.
Seventeen establishments and individuals were presented with awards at the function including Rozzy Travel and Tours at Tarkwa, which received the best Travel Agency of the Year award.
Club AYAS at SSNIT Estate at Anaji, Takoradi was presented with Drinking Bar of the Year award while Akroma Plaza, Takoradi was honoured with best grade one Restaurant award.
Other award winners were Paragon Night Club, Takoradi, Night Club of the Year, Trust Lodge, Takoradi, Guest House of the Year and African Rainbow Resort, Busua, best One Star Hotel of the Year. Raybow Hotel, Skyy Group of Companies, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority Tourism Club, Busua Beach Resort and B & Q Guest Inn at Nkroful were also honoured for their contribution to the development of tourism in the Region.
The awards consisted of certificates and plaques.