The Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) has commended the government for the reopening of land and sea borders, scraping the mandatory PCR test for travellers and easing some of the COVID—19 restrictions.
GHATOF said the development would boost business for the federation as more tourists are expected to come into the country with the easing of restrictions.
Mr Emmanuel Frimpong, the Executive Director, GHATOF, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the “easing of restrictions is going to impact on both international and domestic tourism because now the sea and land borders are all opened, Ghanaians and our neighbours can come in and go out at any time.”
“And the fact that wearing of face masks is not mandatory also makes people psychologically enthused about travelling from one place to another.”
He said COVID-19 came at the time when plans were underway for the African renaissance programme “Beyond the Return”, a follow up to the successful “Year of Return” campaign in 2019, which led to people losing their livelihoods, businesses, and investment.
“So the President’s message has come as a relief for industry players.”
Mr Frimpong said COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible for people to travel and for domestic tourism to thrive.
“People did not feel safe to travel, they didn’t really get excited about even travelling within Ghana. We have been engaging with the government for some time now, so for the President to listen to us means there is a possibility of new ways to revamp the sector.”
Mr Frimpong said though the Federation had expected a review in the charges for PCR tests at the airport, it did not anticipate that the fees would be scrapped.
“This is going to impact on international tourism because the 150 dollars per person at the KIA for the test was impacting negatively on our international tourism drive. It became a disincentive for travellers who wanted to come to Ghana, flights were cancelled and tourists requested refunds.”
In relation to the upcoming Kwahu Paragliding Festival, Mr Frimpong said the lifting of restrictions and the new directives by the President would have a positive impact on arrivals and participation in the festival.
He said this festival, which had taken a two-year break, would be “quite different” this year because there had been several engagements between the private sector, the Ghana Tourism Authority and the traditional council around Kwahu.
Mr Frimpong advised tourists to continue to observe the hygiene and safety protocols, saying, “We encourage you not to stop wearing the nose mask at all, especially in crowded places, wash hands frequently and use sanitisers often.”
“We also encourage all our trade associations to continue to practice those healthy protocols. Since COVID-19 is still around, we should not do anything that will make the President think of bringing back these restrictions, we should pay attention to the protocols, and we will be fine.”