Vice President John Dramani on Tuesday asked operators in the tourism business to help transform the industry into a job creating one by forging partnership with the government in developing policies that would promote the growth of the sector.
He said operators must strategically devise ways of creating jobs instead of focusing solely on attracting visitors to the country as is the case currently, since mere increases in visitors did not necessarily lead to a growth in the industry.
"Numbers do not mean much unless they can translate into creating jobs," said the Vice President in outlining government's vision on how the industry could contribute towards poverty alleviation by way of creating jobs during a discussion held at the Castle, Osu, with the visiting Secretary-General of UN World Tourism Organization (WTO).
Vice President Mahama's meeting with Mr Francesco Frangialli, the WTO's Secretary-General, was at the Castle to discuss how the United Nations agency could help promote tourism as poverty alleviation and income-generating industry, similar to what obtains in other African countries such as Kenya.
The Vice President said for some time now, the tourism industry had focused narrowly on attracting visitors and releasing statistics as to how many tourists visited Ghana each year instead of transforming the sector into a job creation medium.
Vice President Mahama called for a break with that development by signaling a desire by the government to identify and work with "serious" private individuals and organizations that were willing to use the medium to generate jobs.
He said government would partner with the private sector by offering the necessary incentives that would lead to the development of the industry by means of high yielding jobs, especially in the handicraft sector.
Mr Frangialli said his organization was working through the Ministry of Tourism and the Ghana Tourist Board with a view to ensuring that operators in the industry maximized the positive economic, social and cultural effects of tourism and fully reaped its benefits, while minimizing its negative social and environmental impacts.
Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, the new Minister for Tourism, said her outfit would work towards realizing government's vision of using tourism to reduce poverty.
Mrs Brigit Katrisku, Chief Director at the Ministry of Tourism, told the GNA in an interview that the ministry was collaborating with WTO for the development of a sustainable tourism industry in the country using rural communities as the starting point.
She said communities around the Mole Park in the Northern Region and the Butre community in the Western Region were already benefiting from the programme.
The global tourism sector is a huge "moneymaker", grossing more than US$680 billion in 2005 alone.