‘Tourism sector to become biggest GDP contributor’

Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Mohammed Ibrahim Awal has affirmed his commitment to making the industry generate US$5billion annually, beginning 2022.

He said the industry was not doing well as expected, adding that on his assumption of office, President Akufo-Addo tasked him to use his business acumen and entrepreneurial skills to change the face of Ghana’s tourism sector.

He said this at a two-day retreat for the management, staff and the heads of agencies under his ministry at Akosombo in the Eastern Region.

“From next year, assess me on the promise of making US$5 billion annually. Tourism everywhere is a great business. Let us remember that foreigners do not come to Ghana to listen to Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj. They come here to listen to our local musicians.

“They do not come to Ghana to buy the items of Versace, but for the locally-made kente cloths and sports. This means that you cannot separate tourism from arts and culture,” he said with grim determination.

Mr Awal stated his resolve to turn the sector’s economic fortunes by creating massive employment opportunities for the people.

“This will make tourism the number one contributor to Ghana’s GDP. At the moment, it is behind gold, cocoa and oil and gas.  It has to change. But we cannot do that without improving upon our artistic and cultural assets.”

“We need to work together as a team to achieve the president’s vision. Let us stop the complaints and work because no ministry gets all the money it requires.

“But the work must be done with the little resources to justifiably ask for more. That way, we would make the President and Ghanaians happy,” said the former Business Development Minister.

“We seem to be working at cross purposes. Arts people think they are different from those in culture and vice versa. You can’t achieve arts targets without tapping into the culture and tourism background.”

“The president loves the principle of the three Cs – candour, consensus and collaboration. We can’t do without these three Cs. The principle should guide us through our tenure at the ministry.”

The tourism minister said the tourism sector would be a game-changer in the economic transformation envisioned by President Akufo Addo in the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda.

The sector minister emphasized that he would infuse business perspectives and strategic policy direction to rake in huge financial gains for the tourism arena.

He resolved to make domestic tourism his top-most priority to attract one million local tourist visits annually.

Mr Awal entreated the heads of agencies under the ministry to consult him before undertaking any policy execution of operations as a matter of policy direction.

“As the main person responsible for the agencies under the ministry, I have to defend the budgets of all the agencies under the ministry. Many agency heads not working with a sense of the common good.

“The poor cooperation among the agency heads and the inconsistency of the figures presented was the reason the ministry was treated poorly in parliament last year when they presented their budget before the august house,” he emphasised.

The Chief Director of the Ministry, John Yao Agbeko, observed that the meeting gave the policymakers a deeper knowledge of the sector-wide performance from the agency heads briefings on their activities.

The heads of agencies under the ministry took turns to make presentations on their respective policy interventions.

The agencies under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture are as follows:

-Ghana Tourism Authority

-Ghana Tourism Development Company

-Ghana Museums and Monuments Board

-National Theatre of Ghana

-National Folklore Board

-W.E.B Dubois Centre

-Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park

-National Commission on Culture

-Hotel Catering and Tourism Training Institute

-Bureau of Ghana Languages

-Pan African Writers Association

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