Government has released various packages to partners in the Tourism industry and workers in other businesses as part of measures to cushion them against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The package, which is expected to assist businesses to bounce back, includes a GHc60 million Stimulus Package to individual businesses and a GHc50 million-facility to support the Media and Creative Arts industry.
The others are a GHc3 billion facility to players in the Hospitality industry, a GHc5 million package for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and a GHc4 million facility for other auxiliary operations.
The Minister for Tourism and Creative Arts, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyesi announced the relief package at a grand durbar to climax this year’s United Nations World Tourism Day (UNWTD) celebrations and exhibition at Takoradi in the Western Region.
Mrs. Oteng-Gyesi said the Tourism sector chalked remarkable successes in the “Year of Return” in 2019, but that the gains had been eroded by the COVID-19 pandemic, hence, the prudent measures taken by the government to promote tourism and preserve national and cultural heritage.
According to her, “Beyond the Return”, the industry will bounce back with more attention being focused on the tourist potentials in rural Ghana to accelerate rural development.
According to the Minister, it was refreshing and heart-warming to learn that as the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, about 200,000 visitors from the Diaspora have been billed to visit tourist sites in the country, which position’s Ghana the Homeland destination in Africa for international tourism.
Mrs. Oteng-Gyesi said Ghana had received the “safest tourism stamp” among the comity of nations, a feat, which can boost tourism and increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
She noted that the Western Region abounds in immense tourist potentials with special reference to the UNESCO heritage site at Nzulezo, Fort St. Anthonio among others.
The Ministry she explained would improve upon sanitation at the beaches to harness tourist potentials, to improve visitors’ experience and improve physical ambiance at Ankasa Forest, Fort St. Anthonio at Axim and Beyin fort near Nzulenzo”.
She announced that the Ministry would adopt the Masquerade in Takoradi and support it to perform in December every year to drive more tourists to the Western Region.
She asked MMDCEs to promote tourist sites in their various jurisdictions to ensure sustainable tourism in Ghana.
The Omahene of Esikado Traditional Area, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, who chaired the durbar, described the Western Region as “a sleeping giant of Tourism in Ghana” and stressed the need to reawaken the cultural consciousness of people in the Region to locate the tourist sites and develop them.
He said the Western Region abounds in a host of tourist sites and attractions, which need to be harnessed, saying, “As a people, we have a unique culture such as tourism, which requires hospitality, peace, and unity as a benchmark for development.”
He admonished political actors and Ghanaians to ensure peace, unity and love as we go to the polls on December 07.