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The Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) on Wednesday took over the running of the Hotel, Tourism and Catering Training Institute (HOTCATT), the state tourism and hospitality training school.
GIMPA now has the mandate to provide tourism and hospitality training in the country to help improve professional standards in the industry.
Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, Minister of Tourism who officially handed over HOTCATT to GIMPA at a ceremony in Accra, said the initiative was the only viable alternative to uplift the image of HOTCATT, since government subvention was not enough to meet the increasing demands of the institute in providing quality training.
She explained that the ministry, in 2005, engaged a consultant to evaluate the performance of HOTCATT since it was established in 1991 and the review revealed the institute had not fully responded to the quality needs of the tourism industry.
The minister said the evaluation showed that HOTCATT was lagging behind due to lack of modern training equipment, weak curriculum, poor management style and poor remuneration for staff.
The take over, she said, would help reposition HOTCATT to provide the human resource capacity required for tourism development to ensure Ghana’s competitiveness in the tourism market.
Mrs Azumah-Mensah deplored the low level of trained personnel in the tourism and hospitality industry, saying only 15 per cent of the labour force had been professionally trained.
She therefore expressed the hope that GIMPA would live up to expectation and revamp the operations of EREDEC Hotel in Koforidua, which is now under its administration, as part of the take over package.
Professor Yaw Agyeman Badu, Rector of GIMPA, thanked government for reposing confidence in GIMPA and gave the assurance that it would develop training programmes that would meet the needs of the industry.
He said tourism was a key thrust to achieve the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy, hence GIMPA would introduce basic, supervisory and executive programmes to help improve standards in the industry.
The Rector promised that staff of HOTCATT would be absolved at GIMPA without any distractions.
He advised hospitality and tourism workers to extend the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality beyond facial gestures and demonstrate it through customer service.
Prof Badu appealed to government to expedite action to enable GIMPA to access the GETFund in order to further improve on training.
Ms Fati Dakubu, Acting Director of HOTCATT, said the institute had trained 10,228 persons across the country and expressed the hope that the takeover would enable it to be well grounded to train more personnel.
Mr Martin Mireku, Executive Director of the Ghana Tourist Board, described the takeover as a landmark for tourism and hospitality education and urged GIMPA to make the course affordable whilst not compromising standards.
Mrs Stella Appenteng, President of the Ghana Tourism Federation, urged government to introduce quota systems to ensure that hotels employed more trained professionals.
She also suggested tax incentives for hotels that trained their staff to help improve the industry.