Mr Mark Okraku Mantey, a Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, says the government is ready to diversify its tourism programmes under the Ghana Tourism Development project to improve tourist sites and infrastructure across the country.
The ultimate objective of the project is to promote tourism as a number one foreign exchange earner for the country, and as well improve the livelihoods of the rural people.
He said the government had launched a 10-million-dollar grant fund support to upgrade some sites to help achieve the Ministry’s target of raking about US$4 billion by 2024.
Mr Mantey announced this during the Upper West Region edition of the National Tourism Day celebrations in commemoration of the 2022 World Tourism Day organised in Wa on Tuesday.
It was on the theme: “Rethinking Tourism-Promoting Domestic Tourism for Wealth Creation in communities to grow the interest of Ghanaians for tourism”.
Mr Mantey said Ghana could advance its tourism promotion through the use of technologies to advertise and publicise tourists’ sites on the Internet to attract interest of tourists into the country.
He urged the people in the region to invest and initiate domestic tourism campaigns to support tourism promotion and inculcate the practice of domestic travelling among the youth.
Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih, the Upper West Regional Minister, noted that the contribution of tourism to the country’s economic growth in terms of foreign exchange, employment and government revenue was enormous and that it was third largest contributor to the economy aside cocoa and gold.
He called for adequate investment in tourism infrastructure for tourists to come to the region as it was endowed with tourists’ sites and social facilities and decent accommodations.
He mentioned the Gwollu Anti-Slave Defence Wall and the Wechua Hippo Sanctuary, the Wa-Naa Palace among other tourists sites in the region and urged the media to develop innovative programmes to attract tourists to the region.
Dr. Seth Adjei Baah, Board Chairman of Ghana Tourism Authority, advised the youth to reject the practices of western cultures but to project the Ghanaian cultural values to attract tourists to earn more foreign exchange for development.
He said Ghana was gradually losing its cultural values through the cultivation and practices of western cultures by the youth to the detriment of the country’s beautiful cultural practices.
The Board Chairman called on the organisers of the subsequent celebrations to consider purchasing locally made clothes, instead of “T” shirts, from the local people for distribution to participants to wear to mark the occasion.
“This would put money into the pockets of our people for them to appreciate what they have as a people to help sustain our cultural heritage with the Ghanaian values”, he said.
The Daffiama Naa, Naa Dikomwine Domalae, President of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs, who chaired the function, said tourism, tradition and culture were intertwined and so revitalising and promoting tourism would lead to jobs and wealth creation for socio-economic development.
Naa Domalae also urged traditional rulers to educate their people to be law-abiding and avoid the habits of mob attacks on suspected criminals, which he said sometimes led to the death of innocent people.