President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the country is poised more than ever to build an all-inclusive thriving tourism economy – not only in the sub-region but the entire continent.
The president was speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day Presidential Summit on Tourism at the Peduase Lodge, and said tourism has always been a cornerstone of Ghana’s heritage.
“From our lush rain forests to our vibrant markets; to the historic castles and serene beaches including the various cultural festivals and wealth of natural beauty – cultural diversity and historical significance that draws the world’s attention – tourism has always been a cornerstone of our heritage,” he said.
The event was aimed at bringing tourism stakeholders together to explore new approaches to the sector, with priorities for national development, job creation and sustainable tourism.
Speaking on the theme ‘Rethinking Tourism for Economic Growth and Job Creation’, President Akufo-Addo proposed that the sector should adopt preservation, promotion, policy leadership and partnerships to ensure tourism is developed in a sustainable, responsible and all-inclusive manner.
The president said it is important that tourism practitioners and stakeholders preserve what the country has, and be guardians of Ghana’s natural wonders.
“It is our responsibility to safeguard them for future generations, strengthen our commitment to environmental conservation, combat climate change and promote ecofriendly practices in the tourism industry. This will attract eco-conscious travelers who seek such destinations that align with their values,” he said.
Ghana’s unique appeal, according to the president, must be well-amplified on the billboard stage through strategic marketing campaigns, enhanced digital presence and targetted investment in infrastructure to showcase the diverse attractions.
He said the ministry and GTA have been creating warm and massive experiences for visitors through quality promotions since 2019 till date.
“Through policy leadership, the public sector must show right policy leadership in creating the right climate and platform for tourism growth. It is for this reason that government is prioritising the E-visa regime, the homeland return act and visa on arrival processes,” he noted.
The president added: “The sector requires partnerships and a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders, asking players to unite efforts, share knowledge and pool resources to develop sustainable policy models”.
With ‘The Year of Return’ bringing the transformative power of tourism not only in growth of the economy but also fostering cross-cultural understanding and enhancing social cohesion, the president tasked the Tourism Ministry and Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) to ramp-up promotion activities to achieve the target of two million international arrivals by 2025.
He commended the World Bank’s support for the sector, and asked for additional expansion of support to the sector.
Tourism Minister, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, said investments in the sector are yielding positive results.
He said there was a surge in visitor numbers by 47 percent in the first quarter this year compared to last year. Indeed, 170,000 first-quarter visitors were recorded last year compared to 247,000 arrivals in the same period this year.
That is a huge progress made, Dr. Awal said, adding: “The ‘Destination Ghana’ project is on course, with many infrastructure projects currently ongoing,” he said.
GTA’s CEO, Akwasi Agyeman, said the summit’s theme – ‘Rethinking Tourism for Economic Growth and Job Creation’ – resonates deeply with the vision and aspirations of GTA in seeking to make Ghana a destination of choice for travellers seeking authentic experiences.
“We have in the last few years witnessed the potential of tourism in driving economic growth, creating jobs and fostering sustainable development. However, to fully capitalise on this potential we must constantly adapt, innovate and rethink our approach to tourism,” he said.
Tourist arrival expectations in 2023
This year, Ghana is anticipating about 1.2 million international tourist arrivals, with an estimated revenue of some US$3.4billion into the tourism economy.
Ghana has an overall tourism medium-term strategy to reach two million arrivals in 2025 – with not less than US$5.2billion revenue.