Dealers in locally made artefacts are looking forward to the government’s intervention to boost their business in these times of COVID-19.
These dealers, who heavily depend on purchases by foreigners to push their businesses say the initial closure of the airport and other borders have drastically reduced their income level.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has crippled many businesses and left many economies at a standstill, did not leave this sector out.
The creative arts industry is one of the most affected sectors in the country due to the closure of the borders and airports which stopped all transactions that involved foreigners or travellers.
The tourism industry, hospitality industry, and sale of made-in-Ghana products have recorded low patronage in the last six months.
The Year of Return, which took place last year, saw an increase in the patronage of Ghanaian businesses due to the huge number of Africans from the diaspora in the country.
According to the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, the initiative raked in tourism receipts amounting to US$3.3 billion; a huge boost for the country’s economy.
But the occurrence of COVID-19 only a few months after has sent everything down the drain.
Some persons who sell locally made artefacts at the Osu Oxford Street told Citi Business News that the closure of the airports and borders as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus has really affected them, as most of their customers are foreigners.
“I’ve been selling here for almost 15 years. We have to occasions which where we really make sales; during Christmas and the Homowo. There are more foreigners on these occasions. Because of the virus, things are not going on well. For about three months now, I haven’t even sold anything amounting to GHS100,” Abigail Lartey, a wood carvings seller decried.
Another vendor, Nana Yaw, said, “During the Year of Return, when plenty of foreigners came, everything was moving fine. At least within a day, you would be able to make nothing less than GHS500. But since the occurrence of the pandemic, everything has gone down. Nothing is going on because we used to trade with the foreigners. But they closed the borders so nothing is going on.”
Faustina Ofori who sells local ornaments added, “All the items we sell here are mostly purchased by the foreigners because they fashion our stuff here. So later on, they had to go back to the country and everything collapsed immediately. So right now, we don’t have people coming in. Although the locals come and purchase, they don’t buy it as much as the foreigners do. So we are having a hard time here. Sometimes, in a whole month, you do not even sell anything.”
Ghana’s Airports have been opened since September 1, 2020 as part of steps to ease the COVID-19 restrictions previously imposed on the country.
Although the country has already received over 300 passengers, the business owners said they have not yet seen a difference in patronage.
According to them, a lot of people are not coming into the country because they cannot afford the US$150 fee allocated for the COVID-19 mandatory tests.
They are, however, hopeful that more foreigners would return to Ghana to patronize their business, adding that the government should reduce the testing fee to make it easier for these foreigners to come.
Nana Yaw stated, “We are just expecting that business will come to the normal system because when the foreigners come, everything will go on well. That is what we are waiting for.”
Faustina said, “Actually, because of the closure of the borders and airports, we weren’t able to receive goods. We were told we can only receive items if they are opened. Even after the reopening of the airlines, we are still having a hard time because the guy who brings the goods said he’s supposed to pay some amount before being tested and that amount is very high and if he should pay, he would increase the price of the goods. Right now, we also don’t have any money. If he should add anything amount, we wouldn’t know how to sell the goods anymore. So we are pleading with the government to reduce the amount of that COVID-9 test so that things can run on for us.”
“We are pleading with the government to reduce the amount of money that they have allocated for the COVID test so that people will come and buy our artefacts. People are complaining that because of the fee, they can’t come. So we are hoping that the government reduces the fee so that we can also enjoy in December,” Abigail cried.