Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal
The government through the Ministry of Finance has made additional budgetary allocation of ¢100 million to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to carry out its planned programmes.
The amount will help address key constraints facing the tourism sector.
This is contained in a speech read on behalf of President Akufo-Addo by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey at the launch of the Domestic and Regional Tourism Programme in Accra.
President Akufo-Addo said the initiative was aimed at helping the economy recover from the ravages of COVID-19 and would target increasing tourist arrivals of 600,000 by 2022 and one million by 2024.
The West African regional target aimed at increasing tourist arrivals from 180,000 presently to 400,000 by 2024.
He said global tourism suffered its worst year on record in 2020, with international arrivals dropping by some 74 per cent, according to the latest data from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Destinations worldwide welcomed some one billion fewer international arrivals in 2020 than in the previous year due to an unprecedented fall in demand, and widespread travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19.
“Ghana’s tourism and hospitality industry were equally affected and severely disrupted by COVID-19. Indeed, domestic arrivals in 2020 reduced to 240,000 from some 600,000 arrivals in 2019. International arrivals also fell by 70 per cent to 355,108 in 2020, from 1.13 million in 2019,” he added.
He mentioned that the entire value chain, ranging from airlines, car rentals, hotels, restaurants, events and conference organisers, attractions, tour operators, travel agencies, craft vendors, to online travel entities, suffered the collapsing consumer demand due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the disease.
“A recent survey by the Ghana Tourism Federation revealed that several informal small businesses have shut down, whilst restaurants are experiencing an average drop in the patronage of 60 per cent. Average hotel occupancy has also dropped significantly,” he said.
He said through creativity and innovation, the programme would help create the necessary numbers of jobs for the youth, and urged the Ministry and the GTA to collaborate with public and private sector entities to remove constraints to the development of tourism in the country.
Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said the development of a strong local tourism sector had become even more important with COVID-19 and its attendant uncertainties and the fall in demand and widespread travel restrictions.
He said over the past few years, domestic tourism had seen steady growth in Ghana, peaking in 2019 during the ‘Year of Return’ initiative, and as part of ongoing efforts to resuscitate the industry, the Ministry and its agencies were refocusing on domestic and regional tourism promotion.