The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has called on the government to invest adequately in the tourism industry to help boost domestic tourism.
He said it was incumbent on the government to streamline initiatives aimed at promoting domestic tourism to enhance Ghana’s revenue generation.
He made the call when the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, paid a courtesy call on him at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi last Wednesday.
The Asantehene stressed that if tourism was well harnessed, revenue generated from the sector could surpass what was generated from the cocoa industry.
He urged Ghanaians to take time to visit the numerous tourist sites dotted across Ghana, explaining that that would enable them to experience and appreciate the enviable rich culture and artefacts of the country.
He said investing in tourism infrastructure was fundamental to the overall development of the industry.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu further admonished the Ministry of Tourism to promote Ghanaian cuisine and chefs on the international scene and urged chefs to rebrand their food and beverages with good packages to maximise revenue.
“Let’s also make sure that hotels don’t charge exorbitant rates in order not to deter foreigners from coming into the country,” he told the minister.
The Asantehene noted that taxi drivers were the first port of call for foreigners who came into the country, hence the need for the Tourism Ministry to engage driver unions and build their capacity to enable them to portray tourist sites with urgency and decorum.
For his part, Dr Awal said the sector was grateful to the Asantehene for his support to cultural and heritage tourism, adding that the ministry would continue to seek his wise counsel and guidance to develop the tourism sector.
He said he was optimistic that in the next few years, Ghana’s tourism sector would be the number one contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down Ghana’s tourism growth in 2020 a bit, noting that in 2019, Ghana recorded a little over one million tourism arrivals as it marked the ‘Year of Return’.
He said, however, that the ministry had stepped up efforts to ensure that tourism arrivals in the country increased to two million by 2024.
Dr Awal was accompanied to the Manhyia Palace by Mr Ekow Sampson, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Operations, Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA); Mrs Mavis Gyasi-Afriyie, the Ashanti Regional Manager, GTA; Nana Matthew Osei Prempeh, Senior Quality Assurance Officer, GTA, and Mr John Agbeko, the Chief Director at the Ministry of Tourism.
Also present was Nana Sarfo Kantanka, the Special Assistant to the minister and Project Coordinator for the Ghana Tourism Development Project.