Atimpoku(E/R), March. 21, GNA - The Omanhene of the Kwahu Traditional Area, Daasebre Akuamoah Boateng II, has called on traditional rulers to help promote tourism by making their festivals and land tenure attractive to tourists and investors.
Speaking at the sixth Eastern Regional Tourism Awards Night at the Akosombo Continental Hotel at Atimpoku on Saturday, he also called on the Ghana Tourist Board(GTB) to provide the needed professional guidance to traditional authorities to package their festivals to make them marketable.
Daasebre Akuamoah Boateng stressed the need for chiefs and people in the traditional areas to ensure that peace and unity prevailed by settling chieftaincy disputes peacefully to attract tourists and investors.
He noted that tourism was a collaborative venture and therefore, called on all stakebolders, including traditional rulers, district assemblies, developers and operators to support tourism promotion in the country.
The acting Deputy Executive Director of the GTB in-charge of Finance and Administration, Mr Charles Osei Bonsu, said the contribution of tourism to the country's foreign exchange earnings rose from 447.83 million dollars in 2001 to 519.57 million dollars in 2002. On employment generation, he said the sector increased from 90,000 in 2000 to 115,223 in 2003, adding that for the last three years, tourism was the only sector that showed continuing growth in both employment rate, the number of projects registered and total investment cost.
Mr Osei Bonsu mentioned some of the cultural, historical and ecological endowment in the Eastern Region and announced that under the Strategic Action Plan of the Ministry of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City had drawn up plans to facilitate the development of such potential tourism attraction sites.
He cited those in the Kwahu South District to be tackled soon as the Odweanoma Hills, the Ramseyer Centre at Abetifi, the Oworobong waterfalls and the Afram River resort, which would be developed as an Honey Moon Capital of West Africa.
To address the poor infrastructural facilities and inadequate trained personnel in the system, the Tourism Ministry intends to renovate the EREDEC Hotel at Koforidua and remodel it into a hotel training school to train adequate personnel and establish the Tourism Development Fund to mobilise funds for marketing and promotion.
The acting Eastern Regional Manager of the GTB, Mr Sadique Braimah, in a welcoming address, expressed concern about the rising spate of road accidents and their consequent littering of dead the injured human and broken down vehicles on the roads.
This, he noted, could scare off potential tourists to the country if the situation was not checked quickly by the Ministry of Roads and Transport and other stakeholders in the road transport industry. Twenty award winners were presented with awards made up of certificate and trophy.
In the honorary division, Sister Rita Marley, head of the Rita Marley Foundation, Konkonuru, near Aburi, was adjudged the Tourism Personality of the Year, Madam Doris Belinda Arkorful of the Linda Dor Group of Restaurants, the Individual Initiative in Tourism Development, the Attraction of the Year, Konkonuru African Village, while the New Comer of the Year went to Modak Royal Hotel, Pepease-Kwahu.
In the competitive division, Kwahu Pepease was adjudged the Cleanest Town/Village of the Year in the Eastern Region, Traditional Caterer of the Year went to "So Mei Sonka Chop Bar", Nkawkaw, Restaurant of the Year, Restaurant Sophisticat, Koforidua, while Host of the Year went to Mr Seth Asante, Volta Hotel, Akosombo and Housekeeper of the Year was Ms Darling Biney of Little Acre, Aburi. Among the personalities who attended the ceremony were the Paramount chief of the Yilo Krobo Traditional Area, Nene Narh Dawutey Ologo the Sixth, the Queenmother of Akwamu Traditional Area, Nana Afrakuma and the President of the Ghana Hoteliers Association, Nana Adjei Twenin.