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TOURISM/HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY: “Grant Scheme Will Offer Ghanaians Opportunities In Various Sectors"

Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo has revealed that the $9Million Grant Scheme which is being launched under the Ghana Tourism Development Project (GTDP) with funds from the International Development Agency (IDA) of the World Bank Group will offer Ghanaians better working opportunities and make an impact in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

According to him, the country stands to benefit if practitioners will take the opportunity offered to further improve the tourism industry.

Speaking at the launch Of Ghana Tourism Development Project (GTDP) SME and Site Development Grant Scheme in Accra, Mr. Marfo said “The government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo since assumption of office in 2017 has supported Ghana’s tourism sector with funds for infrastructural development. The Government securing support from the World Bank to improve tourism infrastructure is yet another demonstration of the Government’s commitment to improving the tourism, arts and culture industry”

He added that it is unfortunate that despite these investments, Ghana has not seen a corresponding rise in our tourism earnings or break into top 10 Tourism destination in Africa.

“Africa has seen a rise its tourism performance recording about 67 million tourists visits in 2018 making it the second-fastest growing region after Asia Pacific when it comes to tourism. This was a growth of 7% over 2017” he said.

The Senior Minister also revealed that despite the impressive growth in 2018, Africa share of the global tourism pie remains small.

He added that only 5% of international tourist arrivals were to African countries.

He noted that Africa earned only 1% of the $1.7 trillion earnings in the sector adding that it is unacceptable considering the numerous tourism destination centres dotted all over Africa and Ghana in particular.

“I am informed that under the project, refurbishment works are currently on-going and near completion at Tourist Receptive Facilities of the Ankasa Forest Reserve, Gwollu Slave Walls and Tomb of former President Dr. Hilla Liman, the Gushegu Smock Market, Akwamufie Museum, with preparations almost complete to start work on Bonwire, Axim and Kintampo facilities very soon” he said.

On her part, Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi noted that her 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 “Today is a special day for us in the tourism and hospitality industry. As we are all aware the tourism and hospitality industry has been identified as a strategic pillar for the transformation of our economy and the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda”

Madam Barbara also added during last year’s ‘Year of Return’, Ghana witnessed people visiting from all parts of the diaspora bridging the gap between Africans in the Diaspora and the African Continent likewise contributing to our Ghana’s economy in terms of revenue generation, job creation and recognition in the international community.

She hinted that in Ghana’s quest to improve leisure tourism, the Nana Akufo-Addo government solicited for a facility from the International Development Agency of the World Bank Group to implement the Ghana Tourism Development Project adding she is happy an aspect of it, which is the Grants Scheme is being launched.

She said “Hon. Snr. Minister, the Tourism Development Project has four main components and these are: Component 1: Strengthening Tourism Enabling Environment: This component aims to address tourism enabling constraints most likely to have transformative impact on the tourism sector in Ghana such as; Training and skills development of the industry, Aviation and entry visa policy, and Tourism branding and marketing”

The Tourism Minister further explained that under the second component which speaks on Developing Tourism Sites and Destinations.

“This component seeks to diversify the leisure tourism offering in Ghana by identifying and upgrading the most promising destination areas. These are sites that show significant public goods requirements and circuit-tourism potential, and can draw increased demand from both domestic and international visitors” she noted.

The sector Minister explained that under component 3, Tourism Enterprise Support, it’s objective will provide 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.

She noted that she is confident that the component 4 which highlights on Project Management will provide support to Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture (MoTAC) to manage and coordinate the project.

“Since approval was given for the Project implementation, we have achieved some successes, despite certain initial implementation challenges at the onset. I am happy to report that the project has embarked on renovation of selected tourist sites and these activities 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 the plans for the establishment of state-of-the-art tourism and hospitality training institutions in selected Regions of the country” she said.

The Minister added that the beneficiaries to be supported under this Grant scheme comprise mainly Ghanaian indigenous businesses in the tourism value chain, including micro businesses that employ between 1 to 5 persons, small businesses that employ between 6 to 30 people, and medium businesses that employ 31 to 100 people.

The Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture thanked the World Bank Task Team for their support in going through the processes to ensure efficient disbursement of the Fund.

“I would also like to express my gratitude to the Hon. Minister for Finance, Director of External Resource Mobilisation Department of the Ministry of Finance and her team, the Grants Management Firm and my team at the Project Coordinating Unit of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture for their dedication and commitment to the project. It is my fervent hope that beneficiaries shall utilise the funds for the intended purposes to enable us achieve the project’s developmental objectives" she reiterated.

She assured that 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.

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith