The government has launched a $9million grant scheme to support indigenous small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism and leisuresector.
Dubbed the ‘Tourism Enterprise Programme’, the scheme is being funded by the World Bank and it is targeted at revitilising the tourism sector for national development.
The facility is targeting at least a 1000 registered companies and individuals for support in upgrade and development of tourism sites and capacity building.
Launching it in Accra yesterday, the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Marfo said the tourism enterprise programme, the first of a kind in the country was to support individual and other enterprises in the tourism and hospitality industry.
“The grant scheme aims at supporting registered individual enterprises and other enterprises operating in the tourism and hospitality sector.”
He explained that the amount allocated for the programme was an initial capital and urged managers of the scheme to utilise it effectively to bring in more support from others.
“Normally when the World Bank finances a project, it is an initial sum, you expect other donors along the line to buy into it to make it bigger,” the Senior Minister said.
“The operators of this should make a success out of it and we will attract a lot of money into this whole enterprise,” he added.
On her part, the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Barbara OtengGyasi indicated that, the scheme which was a grant facility from the International Development Agency of the World Bank Group was part of government’s quest to improve tourism and leisure industry.
She explained that, a five-member Grants Committee has been put in place to supervise the execution of the grant scheme which has four components.
The first aspect of the development project was meant to strengthen tourism enabling environment, through training and skills development of the industry, enable aviation and entry visa policy, and to also support branding and marketing of the tourism industry.
The second component of the scheme was aimed at developing tourism sites and destinations, by identifying and upgrading the most promising destination areas, she said.
However, the third component of the scheme, according to the minister was to provide tourism enterprise support by providing SMEs with the opportunity to improve their business planning, formalise their businesses, and apply for matching grants to upgrade their tourism products and services.
She said the final part of the project would provide support to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture (MoTAC) to manage and coordinate the project.
The sector minister also indicated that, her outfit would undertake a vigorous monitoring and evaluation exercise to ensure that the funds are used to develop the country’s tourism and hospitality industry.
The senior minister also stated that, the tourism industry plays a key role in leveraging efforts to preserve and promote natural and cultural heritage, and also contributes to the creation of employment.
Touching on the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the disease has affected thousands of livelihoods across the country, including vulnerable communities who rely on tourism as a vehicle to spur their development and economic inclusion.
Against this background, Mr Osafo-Marfo said, it was important for the sector to be assisted.
“The Grant Scheme is exactly the opportunity and support we require to revitalise the sector and make an impact in the tourism and hospitality sectors,” he said.
BY FRANCIS NTOW AND ELSIE COMMODORE