First National Tourism Awards Night Held
Accra, (Greater Accra Region) 27, Sept. The Vice President, Professor John Atta Mills stressed last night that the country is endowed with all the major tourism resources that need to be put to beneficial and sustainable use. He said the country's history, culture, natural attractions, a rich, diverse and fascinating culture and heritage, pose a challenge to Ghanaians as to how these resources could be effectively harnessed for the country's development. Professor Mills was speaking at the first national tourism awards ceremony at the Accra International Conference Centre. The ceremony coincided with the celebration of 'World Tourism Day' which has been set aside by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (WTO). The day is meant to focus on the tourism sector and how it affects global, regional and national economies and interactions. Professor Mills noted that Ghana has made important strides in the industry, "and is now challenging the front- runners on the African tourist scene, both in terms of earnings and growth rate". President Jerry John Rawlings was among the number of corporate organisations and individuals honoured with sashes, trophies, certificates and citations in recognition of their contributions to the promotion and development of the tourism industry. The President was adjudged the 'tourism personality of the year' for his initiative, support and untiring efforts in the promotion of the sector. His award was received on his behalf by Professor Mills who in congratulating the award winners said their "example in setting high standards of service and providing imaginative and appropriate products points the way to continued growth of Ghana's tourism industry.. Professor Mills said the government's major objective for the development and promotion tourism is to increase the revenue base, expand foreign exchange earnings and serve as a catalyst for the development of rural communities. He said the government also intends to provide employment, income to the state and encourage interactions among the people and the rest of the world. The Vice-President stated that it is in line with these objectives that the government launched the 15-year National Tourism Development Programme (1996 - 2010) within the framework of the plan of 'Vision 2020'. "The plan should guide tourism development, promotion and marketing, tourism education and integrated tourism development". Professor Mills said it is also the government's intention to encourage the implementation of public awareness programmes to ensure that the true value of tourism is understood by all. He urged Ghanaians to translate their proverbial hospitality into the provision of high quality, courteous and thoughtful services and warmth that will motivate tourists to return to the country. The Vice President emphasised that the tourism policy "does not want to encourage the kind of tourism which impacts negatively on our environment". The policy, he said, would also not promote the type of tourism that would destroy the country's cultural values. Instead, "we would assimilate those influences and values which would further enrich our heritage, values, beliefs and way of life". He assured the award winners that the government will continue its efforts to improve supporting infrastructure, "nor will constraints facing the country blind us to the crucial role which tourism can play in the nation's development". Mr Owuraku Amofa, Deputy Minister of Tourism urged Ghanaians to endeavour to get involved in the crusade for the achievement of set goals. Mr Dan Abodakpi, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, stressed that with greater determination, dedication and the rigid application of standards, Ghana could be placed significantly on the world toursim map in the next millineum. An honorary award winner, Mr Martin Eson-Benjamin, Managing Director of Kumasi Brewery Limited on behalf other award winners, thanked the government for the recognition which he said would encourage them in the promotion of the industry. The Award winners included the Golden Tulip, Accra, and St. James in Koforidua which were adjudged the hotel of the year in the three- five star and one-three star hotel category. Visitor of the year award went to Kakum National Park in the Central Region, Akosombo (cleanest town of the year), The Royal Dutch Airlines (airline of the year), the Dynasty (Chinese) and Landing restaurants were adjudged the restaurants of the year. Papaye Fast Foods, Osu and Ohenenana Classic, were selected for the fast food and drinking bar of the year awards. Mawuli Chop Bar, Adowa Night Club, Akosombo, and Vanef Car Rental were given their awards as the traditional chop bar of the year, night club and car rental of the year respectively. The rest included Paradise Beach hotel, Big Ada, Pine Executive Lounge, Kumasi, Ghana Airways infight magazine for being the new comer, guest house and marketing campaign categories. Mrs Shirly Odoom of Hilchrist Hotel, Takoradi, Nkunu Akyea, University of Cape Coast. and Mr Tom Sherif of Golden Tulip received the awards for housekeeping, the tour guide of the year and the host of the year respectively. The travel tours of the year awards went to Expert Travels Tours, Atlantic Ttravels Bureau and Fredina Bureau and Fredina tours. Odeneho Nana Oduro Numapau, the second, President of the National House of Chiefs presided.