The Tourism Society of Ghana has called on government to formulate a national policy on tourism to provide a road map for sustainable development of the sector.
Speaking at a media encounter under the support of BUSAG, DANIDA, USAID and other development partners, Mr. Joseph Amartey – Executive Director of the Society, said although a National Tourism Development Plan was implemented between 1996 and 2013, there is still no policy direction that operates in the sector.
“Without the policy, there is no documented road map to guide the next generation on the development of tourism. The policy will enable current and future generations to follow a well-researched guideline to develop the industry in a sustainable manner.”
Mr. Amartey, who is also the National Youth Tourism Ambassador, further stated that “the policy will also stipulate how the sector will be regulated to ensure operators work within a certain framework”.
The sector is a key economic driver that generates foreign exchange, creates jobs and also stimulates growth in other sectors of the economy.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the COVID-19 pandemic caused Ghana to lose an estimated tourism revenue of US$171million between March and June this year.
But as part of measures to reduce impacts of the pandemic on the sector, government launched the Ghana Tourism Development Project (GTDP) to support over 1,000 industry players.
Under the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Arts and Culture, the GTDP is expected to disburse over GH¢9million to small and medium enterprises in the sector.
This was as a result of calls by industry players on government to support operations in the sector against shocks from the pandemic on their businesses.
Commenting on the sector’s decline in revenue, the Tourism Ambassador said closure of the country’s borders to foreigner travellers has impacted the industry immensely.
However, he said through extensive tourism education and awareness there has been a marginal increase in the patronage of domestic tourism, which he said is significant for the sector’s future development.
“The public is now aware of the relevance of engaging in and patronising domestic tourism,” he added.
According to Mr. Amartey, there is rivalry in the sector due to the lack of policy, and they are “doing the same activities at the same time, and we are not able to differentiate between regulators and agencies within the industry.
“The Ghana Tourism Federation champions other trade associations, while the Ghana Tourism Authority is just a regulator; but sometimes their roles collide, and you see one party performing the duties of the other,” he said.