MINISTERS OF STATE, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
MUNICIPAL CHIEF EXECUTIVE
HEADS OF MUNICIPAL, DISTRICT AND ASSEMBLIES
MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
The year 2020, happens to be the worst year for the tourism and hospitality industry globally. This has been due to the negative effects of the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are mostly due to the placement of restrictions on movement, travel as well as human interactions, which the tourism industry thrives on.
For us in Ghana, some of the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry are; the watering down of the many successes chalked by the “Year of Return” Campaign, a delay in the launch and roll out of the “Beyond the Return” activities and a general downturn in the industry’s performance.
We in Ghana have seen significant progress in the battle against the pandemic as a result of measures put in place by HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s Government and the co-operation and support of the general public. Restrictions have been lessened and it is a blessing for us to be alive to witness this year’s United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Day celebration under the theme ‘‘Tourism and Rural Development”.
Mr. Chairman, it is significant to note that for the first time in the history of World Tourism Day, the 2020 official celebration will be hosted by a group of countries and not by a single nation. The Mercosur nations (which comprises of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile which has observer status) are hosting this year’s World Tourism Day. This cross-border cooperation of the Mercosur nations reflects the current need for international solidarity and cooperation, towards the achievement of a common goal, especially in tourism development and sustainbility.
This year’s UNWTO Day celebration presents an opportunity for the promotion of rural tourism. Rural tourism, highlights the unique and important role that tourism can play in preserving and promoting natural and cultural heritage as well as curbing of rural urban migration through the provision of opportunities outside the cities. The significance of our rural communities for tourism and for that matter domestic tourism lies in the fact that they play a major role in our daily lives including what we eat, how we dress, the tangible and intangible aspects of our cultural heritage, as captured by the Ghana Tourism Authority’s marketing motif “See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana and Feel Ghana”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as mentioned earlier, Ghana’s tourism made tremendous strides in the “Year of Return” in 2019, but unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic impacted negatively on the tourism industry. Mr Chairman, the good news, however, is that the sector is expecting 200,000 more visitors from the diaspora to visit tourist sites in the country as the COVID-19 scourge continues to go down. This is corterminous with the “Beyond the Return” initiative, which to a great extent, seeks to position Ghana as the homeland destination for the Africans in the diaspora.
Whilst the industry recovers, stakeholders must find ways to sustain the industry by observing the safety and hygiene protocols that have been put in place by Government; this will go a long way in helping the industry bounce back.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Government of Ghana has put in place short and long term sustainable measures that are helping fight and contain the pandemic and help people and businesses to lessen the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For us in the tourism industry, Government rolled out a US$4 million facility to be used for the development of tourism sites and information centres and an extra US$5 million for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in tourism enterprises and businesses that have been affected by the pandemic. There is also an allocation of GH₵600 million stimulus package for operators in the tourism and hospitality industry as well as the allocation of GH₵50 million to the Creative Arts and the Media.
These moves form part of measures to cushion operators in the tourism and hospitality industry, due to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, Ghana received an endorsement of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) global safety and hygiene endorsement stamp. This recognition identifies Ghana as one of the safest and preferred holiday tourist destinations amongst other countries in the world. This achievement, Ladies and Gentlemen, will help reopen the travel and tourism sector and provide a significant boost to the national economy.
Mr. Chairman, Nananom, Ghana abounds in unique existing and potential tourism attractions and the Western Region has even more to show. The Western Region boasts of its own unique tourism and hospitality offerings such as castles, beaches, forest reserves, cuisines, cultures, hotels etc., The Western Region is also popularly known for Nzulezo, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mr. Chairman, as impressive and varied as our tourism attractions are in Ghana and in the Western Region, there is the need for sustained marketing programmes and the involvement of local communities in the development and promotion of both domestic and international tourism. To this end, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) commends the various stakeholders in tourism development and operation, whose activities have placed their communities on the tourism map, created employment and generated revenue that have positively impacted the livelihood of members of their communities. In executing one of our core mandates, which translates into the development of tourism products, the MoTAC, will continue to improve sanitation along the beaches in the Western Region and the rest of Ghana. This is necessary to improve sanitation at the beaches so that tourism potential can be harnessed.
Also, in order to improve visitor experience at the Ankasa Rainforest Reserve, MoTAC has secured a partnership agreement with stakeholders to improve the physical ambience by constructing more washrooms at the Reserve.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in a move to preserve and maintain our Museums, Castles and Cultural Heritage, the Ministry inaugurated an 11-member committee to plan the establishment of a Gold Museum in Tarkwa towards preserving the long history of the gold industry in Ghana. The significance of the establishment of the museum is to research, collect, interpret, preserve and exhibit tangible and intangible evidence of gold production and its significance in our society and also to boost tourism. In addition, the establishment of the museum will give impetus for providing infrastructure as well as create economic incentives for the regeneration of the rural environment, while creating opportunities for development and employment in the Western Region.
Mr. Chairman, Nananom, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the theme ‘‘Tourism and Rural Development” presents us with another momentous opportunity for the preservation of our heritage and culture, whilst contributing to economic development. In this light, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture wishes to pledge its continued support towards the promotion and development of holistic tourism in Ghana.
On this note, I wish to express my profound appreciation to all stakeholders involved in the planning of this celebration and making it a reality.
Long live Ghana Tourism! Long live the Western Region!!
God bless us all and Our Homeland Ghana!