Private sector needs enabling environment to drive tourism –  Kofi Annan

Henry Kwesi Badu, Accra – President of Challenging Heights- an NGO protecting the rights of children and ending child trafficking, James Kofi Annan, has called on government to create an enabling environment for the private sector to lead in the transformation of the tourism industry.

According to him, the involvement of the private sector in achieving government’s revenue target for the tourism sector cannot be underestimated.

Speaking at this year’s Woara Beba festival at Winneba in the Central Region, James Kofi Annan opined that what is needed in the tourism sector is for government to strengthen the tourism and cultural policies by allowing the private sector to lead the way.

Government has projected that it will rake in 4 billion dollars in the tourism industry by 2024. This target according to Mr. Kofi Annan could be achieved but the role of the private sector remains crucial. He is of the conviction that Ghana does not have a competitive advantage in the manufacturing industry and does not have a competitive advantage in the technology industry either.

But Ghana’s competitive advantage is in the tourism industry, where the country’s history, cultural practices, and creative talents put the nation streets ahead of other countries.

Ghana’s tourism sector is emerging steadily from the Covid pandemic. It remains a significant contributor to Ghana’s GDP and continues to attract foreign investment. Ghana has the potential to further develop tourism infrastructure and services near its well-known historical sites, 334 miles of Atlantic coastline featuring some of West Africa’s most attractive beaches, national parks, and wildlife reserves.

There are also opportunities in niche sectors such as water sports, such as surfing, water parks and other entertainment complexes, and ecotourism.

The Ghanaian Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) projects an increase in international tourism arrivals into Ghana in 2022 to one million visitors. Attracting international visitors is key to recovery of the hotel sector, in particular. Domestic tourist activity remains steady at around 800,000 visits annually. The MoTAC anticipates $2.3 billion in revenue for the sector this year, up from $2.1 billion in 2021 during the height of Covid travel disruptions and restrictions.

In April 2022, President Akufo-Addo launched a new tourism marketing campaign called Destination Ghana in London to attract European and international tourists to Ghana. Local hotels and other tourist sector actors are working to renew their individual marketing strategies, as well.

Destination Ghana follows the successful 2019 Year of the Return campaign, a year-long program of activities to recognize the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded enslaved Africans in the state of Virginia.  The second phase of the Year of the Return campaign, which is called Beyond the Return, was planned for 2020, but was postponed due to the Covid pandemic.  Ghana’s historical sites along the Cape Coast in particular, remain an important destination for U.S. and other international diaspora visitors.

The Government of Ghana announced the removal of several Covid-related travel requirements. Negative rapid PCR tests are no longer required prior to flying to Ghana and a $150 antigen test upon arrival in Ghana has been phased out, as well.  (As in most countries, these measures, are subject to change depending upon future Covid-related developments).  Now, the only requirement for tourists to visit Ghana is proof of full vaccination with a COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved by Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).

 

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