Ghana: Stakeholders’ meeting on the Tourism Bill opens

Morkporkpor Ank (Accra, Ghana) – Ghana is to have a National Tourism Law, which will address pertinent weaknesses in the tourism sector by establishing the National Tourist Authority.     The mandate of the Authority would be to regulate the tourism industry and develop tourism in a sustainable manner, Mrs Zita Okaikoi, Minister of Tourism, said on Thursday.

She was addressing a Ministerial Advisory Board and Inter-Ministerial Committee sensitisation meeting on the Tourism Bill in Accra on Thursday. Mrs Okaikoi said the bill had made provisions for the establishment of a Tourist Development Fund.      She said cabinet had approved the Bill and it would be sent to Parliament for debate and passage.

The Minister said the sector was widely acclaimed to hold the potential to establish a new international economic order that would help eliminate the widening gap between the rich and the poor countries, and ensure a steady acceleration of economic and social development.

She said for the country to maximize its share of global tourism, there was the need to critically look at the endemic weaknesses confronting the tourism sector for redress.     Mrs Okaikoi noted that the sector currently generated 1.6 billion dollars making it the fourth highest foreign exchange earner after cocoa, gold and remittances from abroad.     She said it was the target to make Ghana the preferred tourist destination, starting with the West African sub-region and eventually Africa, thus making tourism a leading sector not only in terms of wealth creation, but also to create jobs especially for the youth.

However, “it behoves us to formalise and strengthen the linkages between the tourism sector agencies and agencies that have direct responsibilities for managing these resources”.      Mrs Okaikoi also noted that this would enable agencies to coordinate with each other to promote tourism for national development.

Ms Heidi Marie Boakye, Assistant State Attorney at the Attorney General’s Department, in a presentation on the overview of the bill said it would address issues like sex tourism, control and promotion of advertisements and tourism enterprise licence.      She said the bill also made provision for the establishment of a National Tourism Authority and a Tourism Development Fund.