Hotels make strides

The Ghana Hotels Association (GHA) has successfully held its Second National Executive Council meeting at Sunyani, with the resolve to continue engaging stakeholders toward developing the tourism industry. The 2019 edition of this annual event was to update practitioners, authorities, and the public on the issues confronting Ghana’s accommodation sector.

At the end of the well-patronised function, steps had been advanced to welcome into its fold a new branch of the Association in Sunyani – which had hitherto been the only region without the GHA. Additionally, the Ghana Progressive Hoteliers Association – a sister-body, expressed a desire for begin dialogue to explore joining forces.

From a humble beginning of less than two dozen members a little over 50 years ago, the Ghana Hotels Association (GHA) presently boasts over one thousand members made up Budget, Guesthouse, and one- to five-star hotels spread across Ghana.

During the open forum, which preceded the Executive Council meeting, members shared their various operational challenges pertaining to aspects of the hotel business in Ghana. Practitioners from across the regions also explored shared solutions to these challenges. The consensus was their pledge to harness their expertise and resources toward the country’s development agenda.

Over the past few decades, tourism has stood out as an important sector of the Ghanaian economy. By its very expansive nature, tourism business covers a wide scope of activities, generating ripple-effects on other sectors.

Next to air transportation, hotel cost is the most important cost element for the foreign tourist, especially. By virtue of its operations, the hotel generates jobs and stimulates other economic demands, mainly in the services and agriculture industries.

For perspective, hotels in Ghana pay the lion’s share of the tourism levy (over 70%). Indeed, if one talks about the contribution of tourism to development of the economy, one is invariably talking about the hotel sector’s performance. These are some of the reasons why stakeholders must consider the accommodation sector more seriously.

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Overthe past few years, the GHA has re-energised membership activities toward serving its mandate more effectively. The Ghana Hotels Award is one of the new features on the calendar. A new resource book on the sector, A Guide to Effective Leadership at Regional Branches of Ghana Hotels Association, has also been serving as a reference. A recently acquired minibus also facilitates the association’s administrative matters.

In Koforidua last year, the association held its first National Executive Council Meeting.  This recent second national executive council meeting was held at Sunyani’s plush Tyco City Hotel, under the theme ‘The Current State of the Hotel Industry in Ghana: Challenges and Prospects’.  

In addition to the representations of hoteliers, participants included the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Ghana Tourism Federation, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Ghana National Fire Service.

Service providers to the hotel sector had a chance to make presentations on innovative products and service schemes. Some of the suppliers who sponsored the meeting are in the detergent & cleaning services as well as insurance, namely: SIBL and National Insurance Commission, SIC, SIBL, Ashfoam, VSA and NEMCHEM.

Presenting his annual report to delegates, the president of the Hotels Association, Dr. E. Ackah-Nyamikeh, commended players in the sector for their resilience in a challenging industry.

Touching on the Tourism Development levy, he said even though GTA appears to be using the funds to develop the sector, this approach appears to overly favour the Regulator to the detriment of the Contributor.  The GHA president suggested that a small part of the Fund be used to support the Tourism Trade Associations to perform effectively.

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Dr. Ackah-Nyamikeh also identified the obvious lack of coordination and cooperation among the over one-dozen tourism regulatory bodies as a major challenge. “Each agency works independently of the other, even though they all deal with the same industry.  The consequence of this lack of coordination is the duplication of functions that we often see at our hotels, and the indiscriminate increases in licence fees by these same individual agencies.’’

The formula for calculating music royalties that hotels pay also came up for mention. According to Dr. Ackah-Nyamikeh, GHAMRO and ARSOG insist on using number of rooms and other parameters for calculating royalties – which the Hotels Association believes is contrary to provisions in the Copyright Act.

Another major headache is that – for quality and cost considerations – most of the items used by hotels are imported.  “When hotels import the things they need for their operations, they come under the mercy of the exchange rate pertaining in the country.  We look forward to the day when we can proudly say that over 90% of the items needed by the hotel industry are produced in Ghana with local raw materials,” Dr. Ackah-Nyamikeh said.

Against a backdrop of the terrorist scare within the sub-region, the president assured the public that they are taking precautionary steps and are complying with directives to install CCTVs at all hotels – only that the deadline should be reviewed.

The GHA president encouraged hotel businesses to adopt or step-up the use of ICT to promote their businesses.  ‘’We must realise that the world has become a global village and ICT is the new lifeline of survival for businesses, including the hotel industry, and we cannot be left behind.’’

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