To revive the ailing tourism industry from the doldrums of coronavirus, amidst the new normal business climate, it is imperative for industry players to brace themselves for stern enforcement of precautionary health measures and safety protocols, Mr. Joseph Appiagyei, Acting Manager of Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), in charge of Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions, has stated.
He said once an end to COVID-19 impact on the tourism industry is not in sight now, any tourism recovery strategy must incorporate strict supervision and adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols to protect tourists and guests, indicating that this would be the surest way to revive the troubled industry by boosting public confidence that hospitality facilities and attraction sites are not infectious grounds for the deadly virus.
Globally, the tourism industry has weathered tumultuous times since the outbreak of the pandemic. Resultant precautionary measures such as border closures, restrictions on public gatherings and conferencing among others have crippled the industry. According to the Tourism Worldwide Statistics and Facts, projected travel and tourism revenue from 2019 to 2010 declined by a whopping US$264.53 billion. As at 2018, global hotel industry was valued at US$600.49 billion.
The situation at some hospitality facilities in the Bono Region epitomizes the devastating impact of COVID-19 in the country. Eusbett Hotel, a 3-Star facility in Sunyani with 150 rooms and ten (10) conference centres has had its occupancy reduced from 88 percent to two percent. Management of the Hotel responded to the situation by cutting down staff strength from 150 to 60. Tyco City Hotel, a 2-Star facility on the other hand has suffered a sharp occupancy drop to between 5-2 percent, accounting for 50 percent workers laid–off.
To support hospitality facilities and tourist attraction sites in the country to adjust to the new normal business environment, Mr. Appiagayei in an interview with the B&FT said the GTA had distributed sanitary items such as veronica buckets and liquid soap, adding “the Authority is also making provision to assist those who did not benefit from the initial supply.”
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tyco City Hotel, Nana Kwame Aning, stated that hoteliers are prepared to adjust to the new normal to help the revival of the tourism industry. “Sanitary items like veronica buckets, and sanitizers will be stationed at vantage points, nose masks will be provided at guest rooms, temperatures of guests will be checked at entry points and receptions. Emergency contacts will be displayed at various places of our facilities for swift response. We are also prepared to enforce wearing of face mask around our facilities,” he said.
The Regional GTA Boss therefore urged managers of hospitality facilities to institute crisis management plan based on COVID-19 model outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ghana Health Service to ensure that they can put their head above water in the current difficult times.
To make also make attraction sites safe for patrons again, he shared the view that effective implementation of the new Tourism Legislative Instrument (L.I) would be the magic wand to turnaround the dwindled fortunes of various sites across the country. The Tourism Act, 2011 (Act 817) seeks to among others encourage standardization by promoting good sanitation, safety and security for both visitors and workers at the sites.
“With the new L.I, the GTA will only issue license to operators of attraction sites based of their compliance to requirements such as adherence to safety protocols. This and other factors will inform classification of attraction sites. We have started with public awareness campaign and sensitization to educate operators on the modalities of implementation as well as requirements including safety protocols,” he said.