Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, the Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, has urged beneficiaries of the Ghana Tourism Development Project’s (GTDP) Grant Scheme to utilize the funds for the intended purposes to enable us achieve the project’s objectives.
She said the ministry will undertake a vigorous monitoring and evaluation exercise to ensure that the funds are used to develop the country’s tourism and hospitality industry.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said this during the launch of the nine million dollar GTDP’s Grant Scheme for Small and Medium Enterprises and Tourism Enterprises, on Wednesday, in Accra.
She said the tourism and hospitality industry has been identified as a strategic pillar for the transformation of the economy and the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda, and over the years, the Ministry has lived up to its responsibilities to improve the tourism sector by marketing Ghana to the international community as well as domestically.
She said in the quest to improve leisure tourism in the country, government solicited for a facility from the International Development Agency of the World Bank Group to implement the GTDP.
She said the GTDP has four main components, which include strengthening the tourism enabling environment, by addressing tourism enabling constraints such as, training and skills development of the industry, aviation and entry visa policy, and tourism branding and marketing.
It is also to develop tourism sites and destinations by diversifying the leisure tourism offerings in the country.
“These are sites that show significant public goods requirements and circuit-tourism potential, and can draw increased demand from both domestic and international visitors.”
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said the GTDP was also to provide tourism enterprise support by providing tourism SMEs with the opportunity to improve their business planning, formalize their businesses and apply for matching grants to upgrade their tourism products and services.
The last component of the project was to provide support to the ministry to manage and coordinate the project.
She said since approval was given for the Project implementation, they have achieved some successes, despite certain initial implementation challenges at the onset, including the renovation of selected tourist sites, which are at various levels of completion.
“We are also working on the human resource capacity of the industry players and very soon we will outdoor plans for the establishment of state of the art tourism and hospitality training institutions in selected regions of the country.”
The sector Minister said the beneficiaries to be supported under the grant scheme comprise mainly Ghanaian indigenous businesses in the tourism value chain, including micro businesses that employ between one to five persons, small businesses that employ between six to 30 people, and medium businesses that employ 31 to 100 people.
“In addition to the above, the project’s intervention encourages support to women-owned and or women-led businesses in the tourism sector.
She said all modalities that are required to enable them disburse the grants within the next few weeks, have been worked on. Notably among the activities is the engagement of a grants management firm.
“An experienced entity in grants administration whose role among others will be to reconcile the financial records of the grantee, collect and verify end-of-project information on performance targets and data and execute disbursement, as well as a five member Grants Committee to supervise the execution of the grant scheme have also been put in place.”
She expressed appreciation to the World Bank Task Team for their support in going through the processes to ensure the efficient disbursement of the fund.
Mr Divine Owusu Ansah, Acting Project Coordinator, said there are three main categories of the grant, site upgrade grant for non publicly owned tourism sites, SME grants for SME‘s operating within the sector and capacity building grant for individuals.
“Businesses who wish to apply must have Ghanaian ownership, it must be physically present in Ghana and must demonstrate profitability.
While individuals who wish to apply must be Ghanaians, register with any of the associations within the tourism industry; must be trained or identified with any tourism training institution.”