The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has stated that the government will position the country strategically among Africa's top three tourism destinations in the next five years to generate $5 billion annually.
He said the government would use the public-private partnership model as one of the ways of improving the country’s tourism sector.
“The country’s economy will continue to depend significantly on tourism and the creative sectors to provide literally two to three out of the 10 jobs that would be created going into the future, and, indeed, we as a government are guided by a vision of placing Ghana among Africa's top three tourism destinations over the next five years to generate at least $5 billion,” the Finance Minister stated yesterday at this year’s Tourism Investment Summit in Accra.
It was held on the theme: “Tourism Investment, A Catalyst for National Development”.
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture together with its agencies, the Ghana Tourism Development Project (GTDP) and the Ghana Tourism Authority, organised the event.
It brought together relevant stakeholders in the tourism value chain to promote opportunities within the sector and attract investment.
Mr Ofori-Atta said tourism was a huge part of the country’s economy, and, therefore, the country could not continue to narrow its focus on cocoa and gold as the mainstay of its foreign exchange earnings.
Currently, he said, the country’s international tourism arrivals stood at about 80 per cent of all tourists before COVID-19.
Similarly, he said, the average spending of tourists had moved from around $1,800 to almost $3,000 per tourist.
The Finance Minister said although that was impressive, the government was looking at other innovative ways to push the figure up.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the country needed political emancipation, economic emancipation and spiritual development in order to transform.
He explained that the country had done well in striving for political independence and economic development; however, it was lacking in the area of spirituality.
He said that was where the National Cathedral was very important as it could transform the country into a religious hub and also bring enormous long-term economic benefits.
Citing Israel and Saudi Arabia as examples, he said both countries made between $6 billion and $8 billion a year only from pilgrimages.
“In Africa, we have some 600 million people who are Christians.
So imagine Ghana as a new Jerusalem,” Mr Ofori-Attah stated.
He added that with approximately $4.7 billion received in Ghana through remittances and $1.35 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) at the end of last year, “we aim to be the bridgehead for capital seeking rewarding investment opportunities in Africa”.
The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, held the conviction that Africa had the best tourism resources in the world.
However, he noted that the continent was not attracting the necessary international tourism arrivals mainly because the continent was not investing much in our attractions.
Just before COVID-19 he said about 1.4 billion people were international tourists and Africa got only 68 million of that.
last year, Dr Awal said 917 million people toured the world and Africa received only 75 million.
In terms of investment, he said between 2017 and 2022, $192 billion was spent on tourism infrastructure and Africa only attracted $8.6 billion of that.
The minister attributed all those challenges to the lack of investments in the various attractions on the continent.
“We have good heritage, forts and castles, rich culture and eco-tourism.
Africa is more attractive than we see it but we’ve not invested much in any of our tourist sites.
We have about 160 million Africans living outside the continent and what they want is for us to add value to our tourism sites and they will come home.
“We need to look at Africa as a business not a lost continent.
That is why I am happy that our partners from all over the world are here.
Let us put in much work to make Africa a better tourist destination in the world,” Dr Awal stated.