The Chamber for Tourism Industry Ghana has described a recent directive by the Ghana Airports Company Limited to various airlines flying into Ghana as a potential drawback to efforts being made to attract tourists to the country.
Airport managers earlier this week indicated that airlines that fly passengers without PCR tests or disembark passengers with positive PCR tests at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra will be charged a fine of US$3,500 per passenger.
According to the Chamber’s Chief Executive Officer, Prince Ntiamoah Boampong, such a directive poses a major threat to the country’s recovering tourism sector.
He argued that, “it is an anti-tourism policy that the airport company is bringing on board. Looking at even what we have now, our airport charges one of the highest in the sub-region so some airlines have gone out of Ghana because of just our charges. So, if we are going to add something like this to it, it’s going to be a major put off and a disincentive for some of these airlines.”
Ghana’s airport shut down
The country’s airports were closed as part of government’s strategy to prevent a spread of COVID-19 pandemic when Ghana recorded its first case.
This negatively impacted the tourism and hospitality sector, which relied mainly on foreign tourists for business.
Due to this, many hotels across the country were forced to shut down. Just a handful were able to continue operations howbeit with a minute fraction of their staff.
Tourism and hospitality sector records huge losses
The Tourism and Hospitality Industry, according to the sector minister, Barbara Oteng Gyasi, as of June 2020 had incurred losses running into $171 million as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The minister elaborated that the amount was for the period March to June this year, due to lack of operations.
“The initial assessment, we undertook indicates that for the first four months of the restrictions between March and June 2020, we are going to have a loss of about $171million registered to the industry because of the lack of operations.”
Airports reopened with COVID-19 directives introduced
After several months of non-operation, the president in his 16th national address on measures taken to control the spread of the Coronavirus, announced the reopening of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) for international flights on September 1, 2020.
In order to ensure that no case is imported into the country, government put in place a number of guidelines. Some of the directives demanded that disembarking passengers must wear face masks, while each passenger upon disembarking from the aeroplane, will undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport terminal, at a fee to be borne by the passenger.
The test, which will be available within thirty (30) minutes would cost 150 dollars.
Passengers arriving in the country must also have a PCR test taken within the last 72 hours before their arrival in Ghana.
In order to ensure that the latter guideline is followed, the Ghana Airports Company Limited announced that effective 6 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2020 Airlines that board passengers without PCR test result or transport and disembark passengers with positive PCR test result into Accra will be fined 3,500 dollars per passenger.