The Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), the umbrella body for the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry, has embraced the government’s GH¢1 billion stimulus package to households and businesses.
According to the Federation, the package would help to alleviate the plight of businesses, especially those in the tourism industry – currently bearing the blunt of the devastating effects of the outbreak of the pandemic.
It is estimates that over five hundred thousand workers employed along the tourism value chain across the country, have lost their jobs over the last two months as a result of the pandemic.
“Our hotels, car rentals, travel and tours, restaurants and related sectors within the industry are no longer functioning as they used to,” Mr. Ahmed Naaman, an Executive Member and former Ashanti Regional President of GHATOF has said.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Kumasi, he said most of their members had been rendered jobless, and hoped a remedy would be found soon to bring the economy back to life.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his recent address to the nation on the updates of Ghana’s enhanced response to the coronavirus pandemic, announced a stimulus package to cushion the country’s economy.
Further to the stimulus package, the President indicated that government will be providing more relief, such as extension of the tax filing date from April to June, and a two percent reduction of interest rates by banks, effective April 1, 2020.
Banks are expected to grant a six-month moratorium of principal repayments to entities in the airline and hospitality industries, such as hotels, restaurants, car rentals, food vendors, taxis, and Uber operators.
Mr. Naaman described the stimulus package as a lifeline to players in the tourism industry, calling for more support for the industry which contributes about seven per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ghana’s tourism industry posted a positive outlook until the outbreak of the pandemic and, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the industry’s contribution to the GDP was estimated to grow by 5.7 per cent by 2028.
The Council’s recent report highlighted the impact of the sector on the country’s economy, particularly in the area of job and wealth creation, as well as poverty alleviation.
This was buttressed by a 2019 documentary by cable news channel, CNN Travel, which ranked Ghana fourth on the list of best places to travel to for the year under review.
Some hotels in the Ashanti Region, including the Golden Tulip, Kumasi City, a four-star and the biggest hospitality facility in the Region, as well as museums and other tourist attraction sites had seen their activities brought to a halt due to the pandemic.
These facilities, six months months ago, used to be packed to capacity on daily basis, overflowing with foreign visitors as Ghana marked 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America with a campaign dubbed “Year of Return”.
A great number of Africans in the Diaspora returned to Ghana on a pilgrimage to promote heritage tourism.