President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced an additional budgetary allocation of GH¢100 million to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to carry out planned programmes.
According to the President, the amount, which was reserved by the Ministry of Finance would be used to address key constraints such as sector operators’ skills revitalization, low quality of tourism assets, targeted transformation of Ghana’s tourist beaches, a comprehensive marketing brand and promotion strategy and reducing other high costs of doing business in the sector.
The President made this known to players in the tourism, arts and culture sectors at the launch of the ‘Domestic and Regional Tourism Programme’ held in Accra.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, President Akufo-Addo said the effect of COVID-19 on the industry has been grave and therefore some deliberate efforts are needed to revive the sector’s fortunes.
The COVID-19 induced disruptions in Ghana’s tourism and hospitality industry saw domestic arrivals in 2020 reduced to 240,000 from some 600,000 arrivals in 2019. International arrivals also fell by 70 percent to 355,108 in 2020, from one 1.13 million in 2019.
“The entire value chain, ranging from airlines, car rentals, hotels, restaurants, events and conference organisers, attractions, tour operators, travel agencies, craft vendors, to online travel entities is reeling from the collapsing consumer demand due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the disease,” the President said.
A recent survey by the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) revealed that several informal small businesses have shut down, whilst restaurants are experiencing an average drop in patronage of 60 percent. Average hotel occupancy has also dropped significantly.
“I am, thus, happy to note that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and the Ghana Tourism Authority have embarked on a series of stakeholder consultative meetings culminating in the programme today. Through these, I am confident that the Ministry and the Ghana Tourism Authority will implement innovative strategies to achieve set targets,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The Domestic Tourism Programme will target increasing arrivals to 600,000 by 2022, and to one million by 2024, whilst the West African regional target aims at increasing arrivals from 180,000 presently to 400,000 by 2024.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, said the programme will entail an 18 months campaign underpinned by a regional drive, promoting city tours in Accra, using double decker buses and the old ‘boneshaker’ to whip up interest and creating an industry-wide tourism wholesale package for on-selling by operators. It also involves reactivating tourism clubs in schools to drive school excursion; a ‘Let’s Go Ghana’ roadshows in Nigeria; activating bilingual offerings and signages at key sites and hotels and partnering key media to create awareness and improve tourism culture.
There would also be a deliberate plan to package and market Ghana’s festivals among others. The President is hopeful that when these goals are executed the nation’s unemployment challenges would be dealt with significant as the programme offers a lot of job opportunities.
“Ghana’s economy has, over the years, relied heavily on the production and export of raw materials. We have not, until recently, achieved much in terms of changing the structure of the Ghanaian economy, and, consequently, we have now begun to generate the jobs that will cater for the rapidly expanding youthful population. Through creativity and innovation, the domestic tourism programme should help create the necessary numbers of jobs for the youth.”
He urged the ministry to collaborate with public and private sector entities to remove constraints to the development of tourism in the country. Adding that the nation abounds in major heritage, arts and cultural resources such as forts and castles, national parks, palaces, wildlife and festivals amongst others, that can be promoted and marketed for tourist purposes.
President Akufo-Addo believes the continuous favourable rankings of Ghana by the World Economic Forum Global Competitive Report, as politically stable, safe and secure environment, unique and better tourist assets and infrastructure, make the country a comparatively preferable tourism hub.