Executive Secretary of GHATOF Emmanuel Frimpong’s call on government to consider upgrading the nation’s tourism facilities to attract more international and local visitors is very important and timely.
Over the years, the country’s tourism infrastructure has not seen any significant facelift – and this flies in the face of positioning the sector to attract more visitors.
The 2019 ‘Year of Return’ initiative catapulted Ghana’s tourism enterprise to a higher pedestal mainly through Diaspora visits to Ghana, and strengthened the Diaspora investment spirit – which was the main objective of the year-long programme.
However, due to the country’s dismal maintenance culture, most of the tourist-attraction infrastructure is in a deplorable condition. Many interesting tourism-attraction sites are equally in appalling condition, making them lose their ability to attract visitors.
For example, most of the roads leading to the various tourist-destinations are in a terrible state, which makes internal travel very difficult and causes revenue loss to the sector.
The tourism sector contributed 5.5% to GDP in 2018, coming fourth after gold, cocoa and oil in terms of foreign exchange generation for the country, and this is something that has to be leveraged on to diversify the economy.
‘Beyond the Return’ is a follow-up to the success of the ‘Year of Return’, which according to the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, generated into the economy a total of US$1.9billion.
‘Beyond the Return’ is a 10-year project under the theme ‘A decade of African Renaissance – 2020-2030’, meant to build on the success of the ‘Year of Return’ and earmarked to commence this year – only to be stalled by the outbreak of COVID-19.
The lull presents the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) with opportunity to strategise and seek investments to refurbish some of the country’s dilapidated tourist sites.
The global pandemic outbreak has negatively affected the prospects of raising additional revenue to complement last year’s success, but also offers room for the Authority to seek additional funds to upgrade some of our ailing tourism facilities so as to make them attractive to visitors.
This should not be an uphill task, since the country made a windfall from the ‘Year of the Return’ and some of the money can be ploughed back into the tourism industry to make it even more attractive for visitors.
Since government has declared 2020 the ‘Year of Roads’, it should earmark some of the roads leading to tourist sites for maintenance and upgrading.