Let’s reevaluate, rework & refine Tourism Act 2011
To re-engineer, realign & retool Tourism Development Strategy, MOTAC, NCC, GTA, GMBB, designate Assemblies & Traditional Authorities as Statutory Tourism Custodians using comprehensive decentralize strategy for inclusive & rapid sustainable tourism development & competitive industry
TOURISM a very broad inclusive and holistic industry that is founded on man-made, natural, cultural and heritage resources is a multi-million dollar and multi-purpose universal industry which stood out as the outstanding discovery of the millennium, as the biggest, fastest and the largest growing multimillion-dollar universal industry with remarkable and phenomenal growth and growth prospects.
It made a huge impact, influence, was crucial, key and became an integral aspect of the new world socio-economic order. It also played major and key roles to transform, reposition, improve and turned around the fortunes of many economies across both the developed and developing divide consistently, since the turn of the millennium until the devastating and debilitating coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic disruption in late 2019, which has unsettled the evergreen burgeoning infant industry.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Madrid, Spain-based organization is a UN specialist agency for tourism.
UNWTO as an international expertise and specialist agency has over the years invested time and resources into series of scientific best tourism development, regulation, control and control conventions, practices, rules, regulations and protocols. It also commissioned series and volumes of scientific researches and studies into and on tourism industry trends that are thoroughly analyzed, regularly the voluminous tourism data and statistics are regularly updated and made available to member countries, (governments), destinations, practitioners, investors and others stakeholders across the world, to guide them directly and indirectly in drawing their individual tourism developments policies and projects.
UNWTO member countries, investors, practitioners and destinations are obliged to adopt and adapt UNWTO into their individual tourism development policies and projects in order to promote sustainable tourism development with less and minimal environmental negative impact across the world.
Though tourism is a popular and common universal industry it is also a very delicate, sensitive and proactive- best industry practice, protocol, conventions, rules and regulation procedural conscious industry that adheres strictly to and strives on tried, tested and proven rules and regulations.
Ghana Our Motherland is not left out on the global tourism, the country in the 90s identified and designated tourism as a strategic frontline socio-economic reconstruction, diversification, transformation and development catalyst and accordingly initiated a number of cutting edge national tourism development policies and projects.
Key among outstanding national tourism policies are the passage of the Provisional National Defence Council Law (PNDCL) 1990 238, the Law created the National Commission on Culture (NCC), as a statutory institution that his the mandate for the promotion, regulation and control of cultural heritage and its systematic mainstreaming into the overall national socio-economic development and transformation.
1993 Birth of MOT
The passage of PNDCL 238 was followed by Executive Instrument (EI) 1993 which formally created the erstwhile Ministry of Tourism (MOT), a statutory national technical ministry under the Office of the Civil Service, to lead the national tourism development charge.
1993-2010 Tourism Development Blueprint & National Tourism Strategy
After the creation of the Ministry , a history event that formally granted the country’s tourism sector autonomy, which was hitherto lumped with other equally strategic and demanding sectors including education, information and others the critical adequate funding and resources, to grow and gel, was followed with the 1993-2010 ,15-year long-term National Tourism Development Blueprint (NTDB) and National Tourism Development Strategy (NTDS), a visionary national tourism blueprint that outlines a comprehensive national tourism development roadmap.
The has seen realignments , re-designations and rebranding variously as Ministry of Tourism (MOT), Ministry of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City (MOT&MCC), Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations (MOTDR), Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts (MOTCCA) and currently as the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) and counting.
2003-2007 Strategic Action Plan
Mr. Nii Jacob Okanta Obetsebi-Lamptey the evergreen peerless communication and marketing strategist fallen statesman of blessed memory , during his tenure as Tourism Minister between 2002 to 2007 used strategic and subtle strategies to make the national tourism scene very vibrant and attractive with innovative policies and projects, including the development of the 2003-2007, 4-year short-term National Tourism Development Action Plan, that gave the 1996-2010 long-term National Tourism Development Strategy a short in the arm.
Others include the institution of the National Chocolate Day as our home grown version of Valentine Day, National Hang-Paragliding Festival, to put Kwahuman and the country at large on the international tourism map as well as the high rest stops which the Lindador , Paradise Resort, Joefel and others and also the historic HIPIC tourism receptive facilities, the refined and decentralized annual national UNWTO World Tourism Day Celebrations, across the country.
The infant industry has great prospects and promising future. It currently ranked as the fourth (4th) largest revenue contributor to gross domestic product (GDP). There is however, a very strong opinion among tourism industry analysts and researchers that Ghana’s current tourism growth and contribution to the country’s socio-economic development is far below its real capacity
Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed AWAL gave the infant industry a short in the arm during his vetting at the Appointment Committee of Parliament (ACP) sets an ambitious to elevate the burgeoning infant into become the foremost revenue earner to GDP by 2024.
Competitive Advantage & National Tourism Standing
Ghana boasts of and has outstanding diverse national cultural heritage, historic national landmarks, including landmarks from the infamous slave trade and slavery, including slave markets, wells, castles and forts, national political stability, safety and security, world ranked warm national hospitality trait and others Ghana however, is not yet and currently does not occupy an impressive position as a competitive and attractive prominent tourism hub on the world tourism competitive index currently.
Legislations and legal regimes (L&LRs) are strategic and crucial to the heath and progress of important and competitive industries, professions and vocations including tourism around the world.
Tourism Act 2011
Ghana in its quest to expand and diversify its economic frontier in the 90s designate and made tourism a strategic front burner socio-economic reconstruction catalyst with a number progressive , pragmatic and proactive national tourism policies including the passage of PNDCL 1990, 238, which created the National Commission on Culture (NCC), the creation of the erstwhile Ministry of Tourism (MOT) in 1993 as well as the development of the 1996-2010, 15-year National Tourism Development Blueprint among others.
The country however omitted to enact national tourism legislation (NTL), until 2011 when the Tourism Act 2011, Act 817, was enacted.
Four (4) key feature make Act 817 stand-out as a masterpiece of legislation, they include;
GTA Ghana Tourism Authority
LEGISLATIONS and legal regime (LLRs) are crucial intangible and soft resources and assets that propel the growth, development and evolution of professions and vocations including tourism in the world.
The Tourism Act 2011, Act 817 is the legislation on our statues as the current national legislation (NTL) that is applicable and which sets the parameters for the conduct of including regulation, control and promotion of tourism business, in Ghana’s burgeoning, evergreen and infant tourism industry and its related matters in the Ghanaian jurisdiction.
Act 817 in section (1) of the twenty (20)-page, fifty-one (51)-sectioned piece of legislation provided and created the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), a body corporate, as the statutory national tourism regulator, the authority is thus the main and lead national tourism frontline implementing agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC).
The Law in section four (4) provided and created an 11-Member Governing Body for the GTA, body corporate, consisting of representatives from the private sector, which chairs the Board and others from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), GTA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), ministries of finance and economic planning (MOFEP),local government , rural development and decentralization (MOLGR&D),lands and natural resources (MOLNR),chieftaincy and religious affairs (MOC&RA) and environment, science ,technology and innovation (MOESTI). Object The Act in section two (2) of the Law on the other hand stated “to promote the sustainable development of the tourism industry internationally and within the country “as the object of GTA.
Regional & District GTAOs
Sections fifteen and sixteen (15, 16) in the law created GTA regional (GTAROs) and district (GTADOs) offices of the Authority respectively, who perform functions determined by the GTA Board.
Tourism Development Levy/Fund Tourism Development Fund
The Tourism Law in section twenty-one (21) created the Tourism Development Fund (TDF), stating the object of TDF as to provide funding for tourism and tourism related projects and programmes.
The law said further, to achieve the object of the Fund, monies from the Fund shall be applied for relevant tourism activities as the GTA Board may determine including in particular marketing and promotion of tourism, capacity building, market research and development of tourism infrastructure, development and promotion of other entrepreneurial activities, tourism-export trade-oriented activities of institutions and tourism education and training.
Public-Private Partnership Forum
Section Forty-Two (42) of the Tourism Act 2011, Act 817 vividly captures the importance of the tourism private sector and effectively provided thus,” there shall be a Public-Private Partnership Forum (PPPF), to encourage public-private partnerships, to promote tourism development opportunities, the Forum shall be organized by the Ministry in collaboration with the GTA and the private sector.”
The tourism sector has an effective private sector which is organized under the banner of the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), as the national trade association of all tourism practitioner trade associations in the country, including Ghana Hotels Association, (GHA), Tour Operators Union of Ghana, (TOUGHA), Car Rentals Association of Ghana, (CRAG) and Tour Guides Association of Ghana (TOGAG).
Mrs. Bella Ayaye Ahu, a decorated seasoned caterer, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Traffix Catering Services Limited and towering tourism practitioner is the current president of GHATOF.
Omissions & Defects on the Tourism Act
There are four (4) foremost key remarking provisions on the Tourism Act 2011, Act 817, namely the creation of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), the Tourism Development Levy / Fund, (TDL/F), Tourism Public- Private Partnership Forum, (P-PPF) and the Ghana Tourism Authority Regional and District Offices (GTAROs/GTADOs) are remarkable provisions in Act 817 made the Law stands-out as a commendable legislative piece, an in-depth, comprehensive and cursory perusal of the Law also revealed a number of omissions and defects on it. Notable weaknesses, omissions and defects found on the Tourism Law which call immediate rework, review and reengineering on the eleven year national tourism include;
Culture & Traditional Authorities
Tourism is an inclusive and very multi-sectoral holistic industry that is founded on man-made, natural, cultural and heritage resources. These four broad sectors and their sub-sectors , for instance the arts industry that components including the screen arts, performing arts, artifacts, visual arts, music, food, textiles ,clothing and fashion industries are all key components of the tourism-mix value chain and industry .
The cultural sub-sector double as the foremost tourism unique selling-point (T-USP), and is thus the most and very dominant and indispensable in the tourism product-mix, but strangely there is no provision for the cultural sub-sector in the Tourism Act, neither the National Commission of Culture (NCC), which is also an implementing agency (IA) of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture nor the National House of Chiefs, (NHC) has representation on the GTA Governing Board.
The hospitality subsector ranked next to culture as the second most popular T-USP, but the current national tourism law (NTL),Act 817 has relegated the second most tourism driving factor in the scheme of things , from pre-independence to date we have not had and promoted tourism as a holistic and inclusive national socio-economic development and transformative catalyst, the current national tourism development strategic (NTDS) blueprint does not promote linkages among man-made, natural , cultural and heritage sub-sectors to feed and promote inclusive and holistic national tourism development, the current various tourism subsector policies and projects are very fragmented and duplicating and duplicative, this call for urgent rework and amendment to address the defect. National Hospitality Legislation
Also needing urgent attention is the need for MOTAC to mobilize its implementing agencies and other strategic stakeholders to enact a very proactive, progressive and pro-women national tourism hospitality legislation for the country, a very crucial but missing essential in our current tourism development blueprint.
Roads & Transport
Accessibility is key and indispensable factor in tourism development just as Act 817 excluded traditional authorities and practitioners such as the chiefs and queen-mothers as frontline tourism development practitioners, it also relegated important technical ministries of roads and highways, (MOR&H), transportation (MOT) and communications and digitization (MOC&D) respectively as strategic frontline tourism development stakeholders.
Local Government Service
Local Government Service (LGS) is another important statutory local institution that is deserving of representation on the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) governing board.
Ministry of Trade & Industry
Another defect on the Tourism Act and for that matter the national tourism development strategy (NTDS) is the exclusion and non-representation of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), an outstanding national technical expertise ministry whose pedigree is very crucial to attaining national tourism development aspirations but currently has no representation on the GTA Governing Board.
Ghana Export Promotion Authority
The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) is another expertise national body corporate which has a bearing on our national tourism development aspirations, however, the astute national export institution has no representation on the current GTA Board as currently constituted.
Resolution Ghana Tourism for rapid & holistic progress
Tourism has become an indispensable and competitive modern and crucial socio-economic industry, which stands tall and very relevant to Ghana’s socio-economic diversification, transformation and overall national development aspirations.
It is a very sensitive best industry practice and protocol proactive holistic industry, whose development adheres to basic tried, tested and proven fundamental procedures including 1:10, the industry’s foremost best industry protocol.
Ghana therefore need to adopt and adapt UNWTO best industry practices, protocols, rules and in fashion its national tourism development policies and projects, to ensure the policies and projects adhere to and are UNWTO best industry practices and protocol compliant, Ghana’s current national tourism development blueprint policy is not UNWTO best practice compliant which is the major cause of the country’s infant industry’s not too impressive growth output over the years.
It is very incumbent on the Minister of MOTAC and the ministry to rework, overhaul , review and reengineering on the current national tourism development strategy (NTDS) from a piecemeal piece into an improved inclusive and holistic piece, part of the national tourism development blueprint reforms must include the creation of national UNWTO Directorate at MOTAC head office , for effective evaluation and auditing of all national tourism policies, to ensure UNWTO best practice and protocol compliant.
To promote holistic and inclusive attractive and competitive tourism industry there is the pressing need to realign the present Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture into an all new and well-resourced Ministry of Tourism and Rural Development (MOTOURD).
Amend Act 817 &Strategy to designate Assemblies & Traditional Authorities as Tourism Custodians
Additionally tourism is an outstanding robust and dynamic that is very much suitable and relevant to our national socio-economic diversification, modernization, development , expansion and transformation aspirations, the sector is capital intensive industry that is best developed as strategic among public and private strategic stakeholders and players, with a decentralized strategy, the fallouts from the covid-19 pandemic disruption has further brought home the need make decentralize strategy a major plank in the nation tourism development strategy , there is therefore an urgent need to take a second look at Act 817 , to rework , reengineer and amend the current and existing National Tourism Law, Act 817, to designate and reposition Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and Traditional Authorities (TAs), made-up of chiefs and queen-mothers as statutory national tourism custodians and practitioners, to promote comprehensive decentralize and balance holistic national tourism development to attain the national tourism ambition of transforming Ghana Our Motherland as an attractive and competitive tourism destination and traffic hub.
Tried & Tested Structure
The various MMDAs and traditional authorities are tried, tested and proven established structures in local government and traditional authority administration respectively adapting them as decentralize tourism structure as frontline tourism custodians and industry practitioners would effortlessly and seamlessly produce alternative attractive and competitive mini-destinations, assemblies and traditional authorities as frontline tourism custodians and practitioners would encourage inter-district tourism, which would in the end create robust and vibrant domestic tourism industry that satisfies Convention 1:10 ,essential UNWTO best industry practice protocol and .
Incentivized Tourism Regions, Districts & Circuits
There is need to take pragmatic steps to demarcate the country into identified, define and branded tourism regions (TRs), districts (TDs) and circuits (TCs) and promoted as outstanding mini-competitive destination within Brand Ghana with various location incentives and tax holidays , for instance it is instance Rock City Hotel in Kwahu-Nkwanta, Volta Serene Hotel Ho, Sekina Glory at Sogakope, Sogakope Beach Resort among others depending on the location of facility in the country should enjoy various incentives including untaxed revenue, lower utility tariffs and others to decongest fairly served urban areas, to promote balance facility location and development across the country.
Additional national tourism policy and sector reforms and reengineering must explore the merger of statutory frontline national tourism implementing agencies including the National Commission on Culture (NCC), the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, (GMMB), the Creative Arts Agency (CAA) and the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) into well- resourced and re-tooled National Commission on Tourism (NACTOUR) and their respective statues into a single national tourism statue.
More so since the Ministry has become synonymous with poor and low budgetary allocation that is barely adequate to cover overheads and capital projects, the Ministry must also take a very firm decision and devise a smart strategy to decouple itself from capital intensive projects but instead transform itself into technical savvy constancy ministry and concerned itself with creating attractive and conducive ecosystem with pragmatic legislations for example there is an urgent need there is need to enact national tourism legislation which demarcates the country into well-defined tourism regions , districts and zones with various tax incentives , to promote and encourage more of Rock City Hotels in Kwahu- Nkwatia, at other vantage and strategic locations across the country .
Fragmented Legal Regime
Aside the above noted defects on the Tourism Act, other fragmented pieces of and applicable tourism related legislations on our statues as far as the conduct of tourism business operations in the Ghanaian jurisdiction include the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board Act 1969, NLCD 387, it created the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board as the statutory custodian and promoter of our national heritage, whilst PNDCL 1990, 238, which on the other hand created the National Commission on Culture as the statutory national responsible for national cultural heritage promotion , regulation , control and its holistic mainstreaming as key, crucial and integral part and parcel of the overall national socio-economic development and transformation.
Other relevant laws on our statues that are applicable to the conduct of tourism business in the Ghanaian jurisdiction include the Film Classification and Development, National Film Authority (NFA) and the Film Development Fund Act 2016, Act 935.
The rest are Creative Arts Industry Agency (CAIA) and the Creative Arts Industry Fund (CAIF) Act 2020, Act 1048, the Chieftaincy Act 2008, Act 759 among others, noted defects and weaknesses on these legislations are obsolete, fragmented and duplicative.
The sector was one of the hardest victims of the debilitating and disruptive coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic in 2019, which brought a huge setback that brought the evergreen burgeoning infant industry and its gains crashing like a pack of cards.
Lack of National Tourism Brand Identify
Lack of and absence compelling and competitive national tourism brand identity as well as lack of Nation Hospitality Legislation are other challenges which impede national tourism growth and progress which need redress to reposition and put Ghana’s infant industry on firmer footing to restore growth and rapid post covid-19 progress.
Citizen owned industry
There is need to review, refine ,reengineer and amend the current national tourism law, the Tourism Act 2011, Act 817, to make attraction host Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA) and traditional authorities (TAs) and the community as a whole active and key frontline tourism custodians and strategic frontline stakeholders, including active shareholders and beneficiaries of social and recreational amenities including roads, streetlights, classrooms, boreholes, scholarships and others from tourism revenue.
A number of tourism and development proactive Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) across the country understand the importance of tourism, have initiated and are implement diverse assembly specific tourism development policies and or projects including the Ada East District, (AEDA), Afadzato South District (ASDA), Anloga District, (ADA) , Agotime-Ziope District,(AZDA), Akatsi South District (ASDA) ,Hohoe Municipal Assembly (HoMA), kwahu South Municipal Assembly,(KSMA), Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem Municipal (KEEAMA) and Sekyere-Kumawu District (SKD) and other assemblies across the country.
Poor funding and budgetary allocation is a major challenge which confront the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) and its implementing agencies (IA), the ministry and its agencies must be pragmatic to adopt and designate all tourism proactive assemblies as model-mini tourism destinations (MMTDs) and support them with technical expertise and coaching support from MOTAC, GTA and others to grow and flourish with well and clearly defined attractive tourism revenue sharing formula , to whip, entice, motivate and encourage each and every assembly to prioritize and embrace tourism development and promotion, across the country.
Tourism is all about creative branding , sustained and continuous strategic promotion to take our rightful position on the global tourism competitive index we need to rework and reengineer our national tourism development strategy, to explore and use innovative and creative ideas, which incorporate UNWTO best industry practices and protocols to initiate and implement national tourism policies and projects that would transform Ghana Our Motherland in an all year round competitive and attractive destination hub.
The Writer is Tourism, Brands & Branding, Communication & Marketing Consultant, Practitioner, Analyst, Advocate & Activist