The government is determined to develop two iconic tourism attractions in each of the five regions of the north to stimulate growth in the area.
Dr Ibrahim Awal, Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, who announced this in a speech read on his behalf, said the move was to address the human and social development challenges and create visibility to attract domestic and international tourists and visitors to the area.
He was speaking at a two-day conference in Tamale organised by the Northern Development Authority (NDA) to validate the Northern Ghana Tourism Development Strategy.
Key stakeholders in the tourism sector, including Ghana Tourism Authority, Ghana Cultural Forum, Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, and Creative Arts Agency, among others, attended the conference to validate the strategy to pave way for its launch and implementation.
The draft Northern Ghana Tourism Development Strategy was facilitated by the then Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) between 2016 and 2017 under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
SADA identified a core working group of seasoned experts in the field of Tourism and Cultural Development, based on their rich experiences, combined ideas to produce the draft of the Strategy document.
The objective of the strategy is to leverage the rich tourism and cultural resources in the northern enclave of the country to competitively position the area as a preferred tourist destination in the country and the West African sub-region.
The strategy is northern Ghana focused and outlines specific actions and targets aimed at developing a vibrant tourism industry to create jobs, reduce poverty and increase per capita income in the area.
The northern enclave of the country, comprising the Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West Regions, abounds in diverse rich tourism attractions such as nature, antiquity, and culture, which need to be harnessed and packaged for enhanced marketing and promotion, hence the Northern Ghana Tourism Development Strategy.
Dr Awal said the uniqueness of the northern enclave, “home to diverse cultures, art forms, vast and suitable landscape as well as a reservoir of warm and hospitable people, are necessary ingredients in the tourism menu that need to be explored not only for tourism development but any other industrial developments” to create sustainable jobs.
He commended the NDA and said its efforts to give the sector “a solid Tourism Strategy to govern and revolutionise sustainable tourism practice in the northern part of Ghana feeds into the overall gamut of my ambition to make Tourism, Arts and Culture industry the number one contributor to Gross Domestic Product while creating more than one million new jobs and employment.”
Mr Boniface Gambila, Acting Chief Executive Officer of NDA, said the development of tourism, culture and the arts sectors of the north was at core of the NDA’S mandate to accelerate the overall socio-economic development of the area, as well as complement government’s aggressive campaign to promote indigenous goods.
Mr Gambila said, “It is no doubt northern Ghana comparatively possesses a plethora of scenic natural tourist attractions, a melting pot of richly diverse cultures, ingenious arts and warmth, which when well packaged and marketed, will attract the much-desired foreign exchange earnings for the Zone.”
Some of the participants called for efforts to sensitise, especially the youth to develop an interest in patronising tourist attractions in the country to boost their growth and development.
Others also called for investments in arts and culture to sustain the tourism industry.