The Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, has said that it is time Ghanaians took the business part of tourism seriously in order to create jobs in that sector and in return, increase revenue.
According to him, the business of tourism was the only thing his administration would look at when it came to that sector, and to show how serious he was about it, he had begun visiting tourist sites in Ghana to speak to operators, assess their needs and look at the way forward.
On Monday, June 29, Dr. Awal in the company of his Deputy, Mr. Mark Okraku Mantey, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr. Akwasi Agyemang, and the Ag. Executive Director, Ghana National Museum, Mr. Agyeman-Duah, toured some selected sites in Accra.
Addressing the media, he said, “The reason why the President wants to revive the tourism industry is to create jobs and in return increase the paying of taxes from that sector; in order to do this, we need to start looking at tourism as a business venture.
“This will create more jobs and when more jobs are created, people will make money and will pay their taxes. Because of the pandemic, the industry lost a lot of money and we hope the Beyond The Return will change things as we estimate that about one million people will come to Ghana to visit our tourist sites and we need to get things right.”
“We want to build tourism entrepreneurs, taxi drivers should know what customer service is so that when they pick people up, they know what to do and say. Let’s develop domestic tourism, let’s add a business angle to it and make it attractive,” he stated.
Dr. Awal also revealed that in order to make this happen, the ministry had secured a GH¢55 million grant to support businesses, boost tourism and create employment for the youth.
Provided by the World Bank, the grant will be disbursed through the Ghana Tourism Development Project to beneficiaries in three categories — COVID-19 relief funds, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and tourism site upgrades.
At La Pleasure Beach, the minister mentioned that plans were in place to make the venue a model beach to attract more people.
Mr. Agyemang also added that the GTA was ready to work with the ministry and also engage all stakeholders involved with the recreational facility in order to get the best results. He also stressed the need for the managers of the facility to ensure the observance of the COVID-19 protocols.
At the National Museum, where official cars used by past Heads of State and Presidents are parked, the minister suggested the cars, some of which were in good shape, would be made available for rentals for events such as weddings, etc.
He also mentioned that the ministry would make available funds for the completion of their auditorium by the end of October so that it could be open for public use by the close of the year.
The team also made a stop at James Town, where they visited the Ussher Fort, the Gym Centre, and the Jamestown Lighthouse.
According to Mr. Agyeman-Duah, the facility had been refurbished and fitted with vestiges of slavery and other historical artefacts. He added that the facility would focus on promoting tourism in the region.
Other sites visited were the Museum for Science and Technology and the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum.