Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, has stated his resolve to generate five billion dollars from the Tourism industry by December, 2022.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the sector directly contributed GHS2.62bn ($727m) to Ghana’s GDP in 2013 or 3% of the total. This nudges the country above the global average of 2.9%, but it lags behind regional leaders such as Gambia (9%), Senegal (5.3%) and Kenya (4.3%). From this modest but solid base, robust growth is expected. The WTTC forecasts that the sector will grow by an annual average of 4.5% between 2014 and 2024. This is in line with broader economic growth – the WTTC expects tourism and travel to contribute the same 3% to GDP in 2024. Yet Ghana’s increasingly active tourism authorities, and the private sector, will be hoping to accelerate this growth and boost the sector’s share of economic production. The WTTC expects the sector across Africa to grow by an annual average of 4.9% and, given its potential, Ghana could well match or beat this rate.
He said he was ready to use his business expertise and entrepreneurial skills to change the face of Ghana’s tourism industry, emphasising he would infuse business perspectives and strategic policy directions that would rake in huge financial gains for the sector.
Ghana’s tourism sector was the 98th biggest in the world in 2013 in terms of absolute earnings, and the 119th largest in terms of its relative contribution to GDP, according to the WTTC, which estimates that the sector will be the world’s 88th-fastest-growing tourism sector between 2014 and 2024.
Speaking at the maiden two-day retreat for management, staff, and Heads of Agencies under the Ministry, Dr. Awal said, “I am committed to making the tourism sector the number one contributor to the country’s GDP from its current third-place ranking.”
Dr Awal said the sector was currently not doing well as expected and as such its fortunes must be turned round to make it the game-changer in the economic transformation of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo’s vision for Ghana’s “Beyond Aid” Agenda.
“I am going to make Ghana an attractive tourism destination by boosting tourism, culture and, creative arts, given that it is a multi-billion dollar industry, which needs to be given the utmost attention it deserves.”
Ghana’s tourism promotion strategy focuses on the range of sites within a relatively small country, and the four main messages of natural beauty, historical and cultural heritage, hospitality, and safety and stability. The concept is to promote Ghana as a safe, friendly destination where one can enjoy a package of both natural and cultural sites. Major selling points include beaches; the castles of the coast; the forests, lakes and rivers of the interior; and a range of cultural events.
He said he would make domestic tourism a top-most agenda to attract about one million local tourist’s visitation annually, and create massive employment opportunities for the citizenry.
While tourism coverage tends to focus on foreign visitors, 55% of the revenues of Ghana’s travel and tourism sector come from the domestic market, according to the WTTC. While this will include Ghanaians and Ghana-based expatriates travelling to visit friends and family elsewhere in the country, many of these will spend money at tourist-oriented sites and businesses. There are also substantial bona fide domestic leisure and business tourism segments. With its tourism sector still in the relatively early stages of development, Ghana has been able to incorporate the expectation of – and need for – increasing domestic tourist traffic into its long-term strategy. Internal tourism by Ghanaians and expatriates is at the heart of Ghana’s short- to medium-term growth plan. Tourist sites and local associations have been advised to focus on domestic tourists and consider their needs, as much as on big-spending foreign visitors. This is particularly important in those areas which are outside the tourist hotspots of the Golden Triangle.
Dr Awal, entreated the Heads of Agencies under the Ministry to, as a matter of Policy direction, inform him before undertaking or executing any of their policies or operations.
Mr. John Yao Agbeko, Chief Director of the Ministry, said the meeting was for the Minister to formally meet management staff and Heads of Agencies under the Ministry to deliberate on how to move the industry forward.
He said it was also to also afford the policy makers an opportunity to have a deeper knowledge of the sector.
All 11 Heads of Agencies under the Ministry took turns to brief the meeting on their respective policy interventions.