Business News of 2014-08-16

GTA gets tough on illegal tourism facilities

The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) in collaboration with the Ghana Police Service has commenced a nationwide exercise to get rid of illegal tourist facilities and operators in the tourism industry.

With a permanent police squad headed by Chief Superintendent Amaa Amartey and the exercise will continue on a daily basis to identify operators who have either not registered or registered, but have not completed the licencing process to be allowed to operate.

At a press briefing in Accra, Charles Osei Bonsu, Acting Executive Director, GTA, said many operators and facilities are doing business but are not registered and licenced, while others have also not satisfied the requirements to operate.

Backed by legislative instruments, Mr. Osei Bonsu said the authority and police will be very stern with illegal operators until sanity is restored in an industry that has the potential to earn lots of much-needed foreign exchange for the country and to create jobs.

“Every tourism enterprise is to be registered by the authority, and then be inspected and licence granted on merit of satisfying the requirements -- and then we go further with classification and grading. But what we have observed is that many units are springing up and are not registered, and some are registered but not completed their inspection schedules to get their licences.

“All tourism operators are expected to pay a tourism levy of 1 percent as contribution toward the tourism development fund, but once you are not licenced you cannot be certified to collect the levy. If you have many illegal operating units, it directly affects levy collection to boost the fund -- which has the purpose of promoting domestic and international tourism, building capacity of operators, and improving infrastructure at sites as well as supporting entrepreneurial activities in tourism.

“Facilities like car-rental operators and hotels are supposed to record the particulars of patrons, but if you are not registered how can we get adequate data? These are the reasons why are embarking on this project.”

He said the clamp-down had been an annual affair, but this time round it has been institutionalised and supported by the police. “Chief Superintendent Amartey has a permanent force working with him to sustain enforcement of the laws, which means it will be a daily routine.”

Mr. Osei Bonsu added that the authority is also developing a training model to be used at the police training school to create awareness, mindfulness and consciousness among the police.

He added that the authority has started organising training programmes for all kinds of personnel in the tourism and hospitality sector so that service delivery can improve rapidly.

The authority is working with the Ghana Hotels Association, which has developed operational service standards that are being harmonised with the authority’s own criteria for licencing to synchronise the two and come out with one document, and take all personnel through these operational service standards.

“The training is going to be compulsory because we will insist on certified staff before licencing. That is the more reason why we are giving them the opportunity and supporting them in the training. One of the main objectives of the tourism development fund is capacity development and training of qualified staff to manage tourism faculties.”

Source: BFT
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