Seeking to bring sanity into the management of tourist attractions across the country, the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has presented a Legislative Instrument (L.I) to Cabinet that will enable it to have control over tourist attractions in Ghana.
The L.I, the Authority noted, would give it mandate to form partnership agreements with communities which have tourist attractions so as to enable it to monitor, supervise and invest in such destinations to generate income for the country.
Explaining to the Goldstreet Business, CEO of GTA, Akwasi Agyemang, lamented the poor management of most of the country’s attractions, which has led to quality of service and safety standards being woefully compromised.
A recent tragic accident at the Kintampo Falls that claimed the lives of 12 students was attributed to gross mismanagement of the facility.
“As I speak, management and control of most tourist attractions in the country are under some local traditional chiefs, municipal and district assemblies, who are not willing to consult us on the best practices in the sector, neither do they want to leave the management of such facilities in our care,” he said.
He observed that managers of those attractions make huge sums of money, which end up in individual pockets without devising means to reinvest and add value.
Agyeman argues that, “all tourist attractions must be vested in the state, and the GTA must have a substantial share in their management.
“That is the only way we can design value for money packages, tailored to meet the needs of the local and international communities,” he observed.
He noted that, Kenya, Egypt and Gambia continuously make impact in revenue and tourism traffic because of their value for money packages and facilities.
“We are at an advantage; comparing us to the three countries. Ghana is more stable and peaceful unlike Egypt, Kenya and the Gambia, with their recent history of elections turmoil, so there is enough reason to attract visitors here,” he explained
The total contribution of Travel and Tourism to Kenya’s GDP from 1997 to 2016, was valued at US$6.7billion.
Similarly, Gambia, despite its small size and limited attractions, raked in US$1.20 billion during the period 1997 to 2016.
For Ghana, the sector contributed US$3 billion for the period under review, growing at an average annual rate of 11.51 percent.
“We have more than 200 of such attractions as ecotourism sites, mountains, waterfalls, monuments, and wildlife sanctuaries among others scattered across the country, so the question is, where is the money?” he asked.
Explaining, he noted that, GTA, on several occasions has been called on to refurbish many tourist attractions in the country because custodians usually fail to invest the money they collect from patrons for the growth of such facilities.
“What we want to do is to go to such communities and tell them, we want partnership and provide added services, which tourists would relish like washrooms, receptive facilities and restaurants” he noted.
In the long term, we want to get the backing of the law so that before we license those facilities, we would have had our foot on the ground.
Currently, the GTA , he said, has no official share in any tourism facility across the country but that, plans for a partnership model with Kintampo is almost complete and would be used as a blueprint for the authority to acquire shares in other attractions through partnership.
Akwasi Agyemang however, said there is the need to reposition Ghana on the Africa tourism map in order to rake in the needed returns.