President John Dramani Mahama has said that government will sustain its investment in tourism and expend in other areas to increase the sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We aim to continue diversifying our tourism assets by developing and investing in beach-fronts, marinas, entertainment and amusement centres going forward. Tourism is a good business, but it is about good service,” President Mahama said at the opening of a three-day United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Regional Conference in Accra yesterday.
“In Ghana, tourism is a major foreign exchange earner -- contributing 4.7 percent to the GDP. Through a number of strategies, Ghana has achieved the target of one million tourist arrivals and is working to improve on those numbers so as to generate more revenue from tourism. Tourism currently stands as the fourth-largest foreign exchange earner after cocoa, gold, and oil and gas.
“We will continue enhancing our engagement with local and international media partners to promote our tourist attractions. Ghana has many strong brand assets. We are considered a model of democracy, peace and stability in Africa. Ghana is a good place to do business and is considered the gateway to doing business in West Africa,” he said.
The on-going UNWTO conference, which is themed ‘Enhancing brand Africa, fostering tourism development’, is a platform for tourism ministers across the continent to set a common action plan for advancing Africa’s image and brand as a tourism destination.
It aims to achieve a balance between insights from destination managers and commercial practitioners in ensuring that both market reality and policy imperatives are considered, as these are issues that destinations need to align on an on-going basis.
In 2014 Africa received 56 million international tourists: International tourism receipts in Africa amount to US$36billion or 7 percent of all exports on the continent.
There has been a steady growth in tourist arrivals into Ghana, bar last year when the Ebola epidemic led to a significant reduction in tourist numbers.
The National Tourism Development Plan 2013-2027 conservatively projects tourism receipts of US$1.5billion in 2017; 2.5billion in 2022; and 4.3billion in 2027. The actualisation of this goal will however depend on the policy commitment of government.
Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO said: “Despite the dynamic growth of African economies, Africa continues to face many challenges that impede tourism development and transformative potential in the region. Africa’s image struggles with a negative default setting, fuelled by unflattering stereotypes and broad generalisation of crisis situations in specific locations.
“In contrast, rarely do we ever hear about the numerous positive developments in Africa; including its fastest-growing emerging economies, medical breakthroughs and the technological innovations that are transforming industries and societies. To not tell these stories is to flatten world-view.”
Mrs. Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, said her ministry will work to ensure growth of the sector and high standards in the tourism sector. “To the nearly one million tourists who tasted Ghana last year, we wish to assure them and the rest of the world that with strengthening the hands of our main implementation agency -- the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) -- to enforce stringent measures for responsible tourism, our hotels, casinos, restaurants, game-parks and golf courses are ready to make destination Ghana an even more exciting preference.”