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MAKING TOURISM NO. 1 FOREIGN EXCHANGE EARNER FOR GHANA

As a proactive public policy institution, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is mandated to provide a firm, steady policy atmosphere for synergising the country’s culture with nationwide lifestyle and ensure strong and vibrant arts and tourism economy emergence to facilitate interaction among industry players.

In meeting its policy objectives, the Ministry formulates policies and programmes for domestic, regional and international tourism development and promotion, conducts research into national and global trends in tourism, arts, and culture, and legislates regulations for compliance. While developing both public and private sector human resource needs for quality and standardised service delivery to boost tourist traffic, the Ministry aims at enhancing its fortunes in attracting domestic and foreign investment for revenue generation, employment creation and increased Gross Domestic Product for the country.

In earnest, Ghana has virgin, pristine and unexplored sites (natural and man-made) that can be promoted and marketed for domestic incomes and foreign exchange. Ghana should pursue tourism vigorously because it is pro-poor and diversifies incomes.

I am, however, optimistic that the Ministry’s efforts can achieve results and make the Tourism sector number one foreign exchange earner for our country by focusing attention on some critical tourism drivers

First of all, solving transportation bottlenecks is a must. Ghana’s tourism promotion and/or marketing is hampered by poor roads to attractions. While Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture does not construct roads, it is encouraged to strengthen, resuscitate or revive Inter-ministerial Committee Meeting that discusses and woos other ministries whose mandates are feeder and major roads construction to leading tourism attractions in our country to enable the sector to achieve its goals.

Besides, extending electricity to attractions is critically important. Electricity extension to all attractions should be considered a national priority. Thank God successive regimes have done some efforts in this regard, though, with limited success. With adequate and constant electricity and water supplies, the private sector is encouraged, invigorated and energised to invest in attractions’ regions and communities. Affordable guest houses, chalets, and restaurants plus other ancillary services will spring up and to provide rural employment and incomes to the people.

More so, Public/Private Partnership (PPP) forum revitalisation is urgently needed. This platform provides an opportunity for tourism practitioners from both public and private sectors to dialogue ways to develop, promote and revive the country’s tourism sector since the industry is public sector led and private sector driven.

Meanwhile, the Unique Selling Point identification for the country is significant in promoting and boosting tourist traffic and incomes for Ghana. Our country’s tourism uniqueness for promotion purposes needs to be identified for tourists’ consumption. Unfortunately, we do not have this yet. Indeed, tourism can be nature, adventure, culture, historical, faith and/or mixed or delivering wide-ranging products to our visitors.

However, a comprehensive tourism policy to identify Ghana’s strategic focus is needed and to define our tourism USP. With this policy, Ghana can be zoned into three – namely, Southern Sector (Volta and Central Regions), Middle Sector (Ashanti Region) and Northern Sector (Northern Region) for USP development. This attracts high-end tourists; hence increased revenue and high GDP.

The above notwithstanding, Tourism Satellite Accounts development is unsettled for our country. Being a UNWTO requirement, TSA is a quantitative measure for tourism’s diverse economic potentials, linking the sector’s contributions to National Accounts System. The primary objective of the TSA is detailing and analysing information on tourism, including direct economic impact.

TSA allows for accurate measurement and comparison among economic sectors. It provides for a better understanding of the true size and tourism industry value while producing hard figures that are internationally comparable, highly reliable with quality statistics produced by official national statistical systems.

Be that as it may, the TSA creation and implementation highlights the sector’s contributions to the national economy, while influencing economic multipliers and attracting investments. It is, therefore, difficult to convince the global community, nowadays, with tourism data which is unsupported by TSA.

For us to convince government for an improvement in the sector’s meagre budgetary allocation, we need to demonstrate, with bankable and reliable data, that tourism can do better when given more attention and pecuniary resources.

Significantly, tourism, environment, and household accounts are external to national accounting systems; hence the global standards to measure tourism impact on national economies, development and specifically show its Gross Domestic Product share.

 By ALPHONSE KUMAZA

The writer is a Senior Tourism Officer

Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture

020 890 84 66

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