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Catherine Abelema Afeku, Minister for Tourism
Catherine Abelema Afeku, Minister for Tourism

Ghana still not preferred tourism destination- Report suggests

NPP’s 2016 manifesto acknowledged the huge tourism potential that has been left unexplored for many years by successive governments and promised their government will be different. 

To  achieve  this,  the  NPP  government  promised  to  aggressively  develop  tourist sites and bring them to world-class standards. They also promised to deliberately market and promote Ghana’s unique tourist sites; promote domestic tourism; and generally, take tourist staff and the hospitality industry seriously among others.

However, this is not the fi­rst time the tourism industry in Ghana has been promised a ‘’make over’’ by a political party. Past administrations also made promises to make Ghana a preferred and competitive tourist destination and to develop new, high-value options in the leisure market.

Nonetheless,  Ghana  is  still  not  a  preferred  and  competitive  tourist  destination  even  for  the  local  tourist  .  This makes one wonder whether the rhetoric will continue, even with this new administration.

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According to a report by Imani Africa, in the 2017 budget, allocations to capital expenditure (CAPEX) for tourism decreased significantly (74.42%) from GHS 4.3 million in 2016, to GHS 1.10 million in 2017.

However, in the 2018 budget, allocation to CAPEX has increased from GHS 1.10 million in 2017 to GHS 16.7 million in 2018. This is generally a very good change, assuming that actual disbursement equals projections. It reflects the government’s realization that increased spending in tourism has great potential to drive economic growth and create jobs.

The  main  performance  or  achievement  of  the  tourism  sector  in  2016  as  highlighted  by  the  2017  budget  was  to  boost  domestic  tourism through the organization of selected activities. The activities includes the Chocolate Day, Hang Paragliding Festival, PANAFEST and Homofest.  In  the  same  budget,  the  2017  outlook  was  to  undertake  investment  feasibility  studies  to  strengthen  private  sector  participation  through  Public  Private  Partnerships  (PPPs);  to  ensure  sustainable  tourism development;  kick  start  the  Marine  Drive Tourism Investment Project and to develop the Efua Sutherland Park into an ultra-modern world class park through PPP arrangements. However, the 2017 performance of the sector as stated in the 2018 budget include the organization of the Chocolate day, paragliding festival, Emancipation and PANAFEST Day. The ministry also participated in eight international fairs including the 51st Internationale Tourismus Bourse (ITB), Tourism Fair Berlin Germany; China’s outbound travel and tourism market (COTTOM) in Beijing, China and the Akwaaba Fair in Nigeria.

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While organizing cultural programs and travelling to international fairs are all reasonable tourism promotions activities, it does not even begin to address the core challenges faced by the tourism industry in Ghana.

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Core challenges faced by the industry include; the deplorable conditions of roads leading to the major tourist sites in Ghana, which critically affects both domestic tourism and discourages  private  sector  involvement;  non-existence  of  basic  necessities  such  as  proper  sanitation,  signage,  restaurants,  etc. at most tourist  sites.  While  the  budget  has  stated  the  need  to  leverage  private  partnerships  to  develop  the  tourism  sector,  speci­fically tourism infrastructure, the public purse will still have to make signifi­cant contributions.

 

 

By: Latifa Carlos

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