Dr. Edward Ackah-Nyamike (Jnr.), President of the Ghana Hotels Association, has called for the synchronisation of various regulatory bodies handling hotels and the tourism industry in Ghana, especially in payment of taxes and royalties.
“Each agency works almost absolutely independent of the other, even though they all deal with the same industry. The consequence of this lack of coordination is duplication of functions that we often see at our hotels, and the indiscriminate increases in licence fees by the individual agencies (as recommended to Ministry of Finance) without recourse to its impact on the total quantum to be paid by the hotels.
“I must add, though, that some progress has been made in an attempt to address this challenge. A joint committee of GTA and GHATOF has produced a document that captures the above challenge in detail, and has recommended the synchronisation of the various tourism-related regulatory bodies to ensure harmony in the system.”
Dr. Ackah-Nyamike, who made this call at a news conference in Accra on Tuesday added: “I am informed that the document has been sent to the sector minister and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Tourism for further action”.
It was on the theme ‘Year of Return, and matters arising in the hotel sub-sector’.
The Copyright Act 690 (2006) as amended by Copyright Act 2009 (Act790) is the primary source of law concerning Copyright matters in Ghana, and makes it mandatory for users of copyright works to pay royalties to the owners of such works.
He said it is no secret that music and audio visual works form an integral part of hotel businesses, and in Ghana two societies are mandated by law to collect copyright fees on behalf of their members.
The organisations, he said, are the Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO) and Audio Visual Rights Society of Ghana (ARSOG).
He said as law abiding citizens, hoteliers are generally not against payment of royalties for the use of copyright works to GHAMRO and ARSOG, but their bone of contention is the formula for calculating royalties.
“GHAMRO and ARSOG insist on using number of rooms and other parameters for calculating royalties, and the Ghana Hotels Association believes this is contrary to provisions in the Copyright Act. To bring a lasting solution to this long-standing disagreement, the Ghana Hotels Association has petitioned the Copyright Administrator – in line with a provision in the Copyright Act 690.”
He said in response to that petition, the Copyright Administrator indicated that the Copyright Tribunal, which is soon to be set up, will look into the matter.
On training staff, he said: “I believe that every hotelier worth his or her salt appreciates the importance of employing qualified staff to work with, as well as of ensuring continuous improvements in staff performance through training. Indeed, training is essential in the development of knowledge and skills in employees as per requirements of the job”.
He said although they lack adequate data to comment conclusively on the state of training as far as the hotel industry is concerned, they cannot conclude that all is well.
He said economic, social, and political projections point to a Hospitality and Tourism Sector needed to offer to the Ghanaian community in terms of employment, foreign exchange earnings, commerce, social integration and infrastructural development.
“The hotel industry, which is the pillar of the hospitality and tourism sector in Ghana, is far from realising its full potential to contribute its quota in fulfillment of the Ghana Beyond Aid vision of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
“We therefore call on the president to give special attention to the Tourism and Hospitality Sector – particularly the hotel industry, wherein lies the secret to our sustained economic growth as a country. Kenya, Gambia and other countries have explored this, and we can also do it.”
The Ghana Hotels Association president denounced the unfair distribution of development funds and lack of affirmative action on the regulations of hotels.
He called for a massive paradigm shift in regulations that would effectively protect the members of Ghana Hotels Association and the industry.
He called on the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts, Ghana Tourism Authority and the Attorney General to find an amicable solution to the numerous taxes and bills to enhance their survival.