Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture had noted that though the country’s tourism and hospitality industry was badly hit by the global pandemic, the government had rolled out a detailed plan to enable the industry recover from the ravages of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
He said the government had already made an additional budgetary allocation of GH¢100 million to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture through the ministry of finance which he said would help make a modest recovery.
“Ghana’s tourism and hospitality industry have been greatly affected by Covid-19”.
For instance, domestic arrivals in 2020 reduced to 240,000 from 600, 000 arrivals in 2019 while international arrivals also fell by 70 per cent being 355,108 in 2020, from 1.13 million in 2019”, the Minister stated.
Dr Awal made the revelation when he toured some key tourist attraction centres in the region including the Cape Coast Castle and Kakum National Park, to assess their current state and expressed grave concern about the undeveloped state of some tourism infrastructure in the Central Region.
He was accompanied by Mr Akwasi Agyeman, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and other officials from the Ministry.
He expressed the government’s commitment to providing enabling environment for the industry to roll out its planned programmes and help to address key constraints which among others were to ‘rebirth the skills of operators of the sector, redeem the low quality of tourism assets and transform Ghana’s beaches.
The plan also includes a comprehensive marketing brand and promotion strategy and reducing the high costs of doing business in the sector.
He consequently, challenged stakeholders in the industry to double their efforts and work hand in hand with the government to change the face of tourism in the region which had been touted as the ‘heartbeat’ of tourism in the country.
Dr Awal engaged the managers of the facilities during the tour and charged them to design programs and policies that would put the Region on the world map.
“Let us make the Region a tourism destination comparable to what we see in the Western world”. Let us project into the future; give us at least 250, 000 people who would visit our sites to help us generate revenue”, he added.
He also had an engagement with stakeholders within the tourism and hospitality industry in the Region and challenged them to give off their best amidst the constraints to make the Region’s tourist sites match foreign standards.
In that regard, he called on the stakeholders to cooperate and collaborate with the Government noting that, collaborative efforts between the government and the industry’s stakeholders was a necessary part of the agenda to shore up tourism in the region.
He encouraged the stakeholders to take an interest and support the government’s efforts to promote domestic tourism and to increase the sector’s contribution to GDP.
Mr Ben Kweku Idun, Central Regional Chairman of the Ghana Hotels Association, raised concerns about the bad nature of roads leading to some of the region’s tourist sites and said he was disappointed with the region’s progress.
According to him, the nature of the roads were not fit for tourism development and lamented that the industry had so much been “Accra centred” with little or no attention on other regions including the Central Region.
Mr Idun encouraged the stakeholders to focus on the region and tap into its numerous potentials for national development.
Responding to Mr Idun’s concern, Dr Awal indicated that plans were underway to ensure that all roads leading to the various tourist destinations were properly constructed.
Some of the stakeholders also expressed concerns relating to data collection, the safety of tourists, training for industry players, transportation, cost of doing business among others and shared how they could be solved.