Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, Senior Minister, on Wednesday launched a nine-million dollar tourism grant scheme under the Ghana Tourism Development Project, geared towards revitalising the tourism sector that has highly been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds, being provided by the International Development Agency of the World Bank Group, would benefit about 1,000 small and medium scale enterprises in the tourism and hospitality sector.
Mr Osafo Maafo described the scheme as the first-ever tourism enterprise support programme in the history of the country to support businesses that would promote tourism in the nation.
It aims at supporting registered individual enterprises and other enterprises operating in the tourism and hospitality sector.
The amount, an initial capital under the scheme, is expected to be increased with more funds as the scheme grew, the Minister explained, urging the operators to ensure that they made the scheme successful to attract more funds.
Mr Osafo Maafo said the grant support came at a time when the world was facing an unmeasurable global health emergency, with a huge devastating social and economic impact on societies and livelihoods.
According to the Senior Minister, throughout the years, the sector had continuously demonstrated its resilient as a business to overcome environmental problems because “the tourist industry itself is environmentally generated, therefore, when there is a problem with the environment, it is the first to adjust to solve the problem”.
The sector, he said, had achieved it resilience because of adequate political support and the recognition government continue to give to the industry players, to ensure that they continued to play their roles in the socio-economic development of the country.
He said the industry also played a key role in leveraging efforts to preserve and promote natural and cultural heritage and it had long been at the forefronts of creating employments and livelihoods, especially for the youth, women and the unemployed.
“Tourism has the advantage of creating employment across backgrounds, across various education levels, and across gender, and therefore it is employment generator when we do it properly”.
Mr Osafo Maafo said since no one knew when the COVID situation would be done with, there was the need to adjust to the new normal and adapt to the safety protocols, especially in the tourism sector.
“We believe that the devastating effect on tourism, culture and travel, would be minimized and the industry will regain its rightful place in the economy.
The Minister expressed the hope that practitioners would take the opportunity that the grant offered to improve the tourism industry despite the negative effect of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, applicants of the grant would be required to submit proposals to the grant management team for onward submission to the grant committee, which would evaluate and then approve an amount for a beneficiary.