Madam Catherine Abelema Afeku, the Minister-designate of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, said she would promote aggressive unique Ghanaian brand of tourism locally and internationally in order to re-ignite interest in the country’s tourism industry.
That, she said, would increase the country’s tourism revenues which currently ranked the fourth largest foreign earning to the country.
Addressing the Parliament’s Appointments Committee in Accra during her vetting on Monday, Madam Afeku said if given the nod, the Ministry would collaborate with other ministries and the private sector to rehabilitate tourism infrastructure in the country, including road networks linking tourist sites to boost domestic and foreign patronage.
Madam Afeku, the Member of Parliament for Evalue/Gwira/Ajomoro in the Western Region, said the Ministry would collaborate with the National Commission for Civic Education to re-orient the citizenry on the unique Ghanaian cultural values so that Ghanaians would continue to exhibit their hospitable nature to foreign tourists to leave lasting memories of the country on them.
She said this would eventually increase the revenue accruing to the country through tourism to accelerate national development.
Madam Afeku said Ghana’s tourism industry was competing with other African countries such as Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda for tourism destination, therefore, the Ministry would embark on aggressive marketing of its tourism sites to the international community.
She said the Ministry would activate the Single Window Platform where all tourism sites in the country would be captured on a technological database, adding; ‘‘so that with just a press of a button, you can have access to tourist sites in the country’’.
Asked about how she would expand the size of the country’s tourism industry to increase revenue to the state, the nominee said she had identified three projects namely; the Accra Marine Investment Drive which would create an estimated 50,000 jobs; the Single Automation Platform as a strategy to increasing revenue; as well as Domestic Tourism improvement.
She said the Ministry would establish a state-of-the-art-hotel management training school that would offer professional training in hotel management to improve the quality of services rendered as well as a Creative Arts Fund to support local artists.
Madam Afeku said the Ministry would promote health tourism since the country had medical experts to provide quality health services.
She gave the assurance that she would push for the passage of the Creative Arts Bill into law so as to give the creative arts industry the legal backing to operate effectively as well as establishing a secretariat to enhance co-ordination of its activities.
Asked about major challenges confronting the tourism sector, Madam Afeku said the issue of sanitation like open defecation, especially at the beaches, was deterring people from patronising tourist sites and that ‘‘Ghana has 540 coastal sites that have not been developed so we shall tackle the issue of sanitation and water when given the nod.”
She said: ‘‘The Marine Drive Investment Project, a 200-acre land behind the Castle, is a project that if the private sector buys into and develops the site, definitely it will shore up the country’s revenue base in the sector’’.
Commenting on the proliferation of foreign telenovelas on major television networks in the country, Madam Afeku noted that it was a major challenge since it was inculcating foreign cultural values into the children, and gave the assurance that she would dialogue with the stations to consider screening quality local movies that would imbibe in the citizenry Ghanaian cultural values.