The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, has called on the Upper East Regional Minister and stakeholders to identify two critical tourist sites for immediate development, to attract tourists to the Region.
He said the Region had many opportunities in the Tourism, Arts and Culture sectors and his outfit needed to collaborate with the Upper East Regional administration to leverage the Tourism sector, and make it a major foreign exchange earner for the Region and the country.
“We think that Tourism hasn’t developed the way it should have been developed over the years. It is now number four contributor to Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) next to oil, gas and cocoa.
“But we want over the next four years with your support, Tourism to be the number one contributor to Ghana’s foreign exchange, we want to make five million dollars every year from next year. We cannot do that without the support of your Region,” Dr Awal added.
He said “For now we are looking at the crocodile pond at Paga, but we don’t know what again you will suggest. So give us your areas and we can add value to it.”
Dr Awal made the call when he called on Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister as part of his day’s visit to familiarise himself with tourist sites in the Region, and strategize on how to improve them.
“We are here to discuss with you, and to see how we can add value to our tourist sites so that Upper East can start creating jobs for our people and earning money in the tourist sector”.
He said many young people in the Region were engaged in illegal mining activities, adding that Tourism had the potential to employ huge numbers of people, and the Ministry’s concentration was not only to concentrate on international tourism, but also on domestic tourism.
The Sector Minister said it was the aim of the Ministry to have about one million Ghanaians moving around the tourist sites across the country over the next two years.
“When the citizenry move around, they don’t only appreciate the various cultures and value systems, but there is that sense of national cohesion and unity. That is important for us as a Ministry,” he said.
Mr Yakubu mentioned the Chief’s palace and Zenga Crocodile ponds at Paga, the Pikworo Slave Camp at Nania all in the Kassena-Nankana West District, the Tongo Hills sites as major tourist sites in the Region.
The Minister said the craft industry generated a lot of income for the Region and country at large, adding that it was important for the Ministry to consider them as well, and thanked the Minister for his vision to improve tourism in the Region.
Dr Awal and his entourage visited the Bolgatanga Craft Village, the Regional Museum, inspected the abandoned Centre for National Culture building project in the Municipality and interacted with stakeholders.