Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, has said government will from next week begin disbursing GH¢55 million grants to players in the tourism industry to support their businesses.
He said the sector lost about 75% of its resources and about eight million Ghana cedis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year, hence the need to support the sector to bounce back.
Briefing the media after a visit to some tourism facilities in the Greater Accra Region, the sector minister said ads will soon be rolled out in the dailies and urged players to apply.
Dr Awal said he had toured about nine regions already and had planned to visit all the 16 regions to see their tourism attractions to ensure they are developed into acceptable standards and new ones created where necessary.
“The objectives of the Government is to, at least, develop two iconic sites in each of the 16 regions. Ghana is now number three in West Africa to Senegal and Gambia, and we do not think this is enough,” he said.
“We think that Ghana is so big and endowed so by the end of 2024, we want Ghana to be the most attractive tourist country in West Africa.”
“That is why we are touring these sites to see where to partner with the traditional authorities, and the communities to uplift the sites. We are the most peaceful nation in West Africa with very diverse cultures, forts and castles, which are unique selling points that Ghana can develop.”
Dr Awal said with the task to make tourism, arts and culture the number one of Ghana’s economy, the Ministry would ensure that the sector contributed five million dollars annually to the economy, by the beginning of next year.
On developing domestic tourism, he said plans are also underway to train all stakeholders in the value chain to become competitive on both the local and international markets.
“Domestic tourism is one of the key things the President wants us to promote, so the Ghana Tourism Authority has rolled out the “Experience Ghana” and “Share Ghana” initiative to whip up interest and encourage people to explore the country.
Dr Awal said the Ministry was working to attract at least 250,000 people to visit Ghana under the “Beyond the Return” campaign by the last quarter of this year, adding that this is also aimed at creating jobs and generate revenue for the country.
Some of the tourist sites visited were the National Museum, James Town Light House and Receptive Facility, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, and Labadi Pleasure Beach.