The government of Ghana is to build an additional airport in the Western Region to serve the needs of the business community, especially the budding oil sector and its other emerging business opportunities.
To this end, government has tasked the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to conduct feasibility studies on an identified location, leading to the commencement of the project early next year.
Mr. Eric Tetteh, Planning Officer at the MOT, who announced this at the first meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Tourism in Accra on Tuesday said the Ministry would later this month begin feasibility studies in the area.
The meeting discussed, among other issues, what the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) that formed the membership of the Inter-Ministerial Committee, were doing to improve infrastructure such as roads, airports, rail and communication facilities at tourist sites to boost patronage for the sector.
It also discussed simplification of visa processing and acquisition for overseas visitors, sanitation improvement and beautification of Accra and other urban centres, data collection on visitors to the country and the need to streamline such activities for improved results.
Mr. Tetteh said the move to build the second airport in the Western Region formed part of the MOT’s policy to make the country an aviation hub.
He said the new airport would be responsible for all commercial activities in the region while the existing one took care of the activities of the security agencies, the main reason for which it was built.
He said the Ministry was also working to position the Tamale Airport as an international one by improving its infrastructural facilities adding, measures were also being put in place to improve safety and security at the ports, a condition for tourists and investors confidence.
He said government was also working to attract public private partnership in the rehabilitation as well as construction of new rail lines to tourists and commercial sites to boost investment.
Mrs. Sarbah Zita Okaikoi, Minister of Tourism, said government was poised to develop the country’s tourism sector to become the preferred tourist destination in Africa, which would contribute immensely to the country’s economy.
Mrs. Okaikoi, whose speech was read for her by Mr. Koby Acheampong, Deputy Minister of Tourism, said the tourism sector offered huge potentials in terms of foreign exchange earnings, revenue generation and employment creation, the reasons for which government was poised to develop and promote it both locally and internationally.
She said the country’s tourism sector, when harnessed to the optimum, could stimulate the growth of other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transport, financial and ancillary services.
She however, noted that this could only be achieved when there was fostering and strengthening of necessary inter-sectoral collaboration and called on members of the committee, the private sector and other stakeholders to effectively participate in the meetings to develop the sector to play an enviable role of wealth creation.
“It cannot be disputed that the multi-faceted and multi-dimensional nature of tourism development in terms of the resource/product development, packaging and marketing is a huge task which required inter-sectoral collaboration and coordination with relevant public and private institutions and development partners”, she said.
Mr. Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, Deputy Minister of Health, disclosed that government was working to re-equip the Ghana Ambulance Service by increasing its fleet to enhance emergency services in the country.
He said this, apart from assuring tourists of safety during emergencies, was also to help in critical emergency situations in remote areas where health facilities were not readily available.
Mr. James Agyenim-Boateng, a Deputy Minister of Information, called on MDA’s to resort to technology application to ensure fast-tracking of operations within the public sector.
He said the world was now at a technological age adding, MDA’s must not be left out of the revolution.
Mr. Isaac Owusu Mensah, Assistant Director of the Ghana Immigration Service, in-charge of the Kotoka International Airport, said the GIS, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had put in place measures, which made visa application and acquisition easy for all visitors.
Mr. Mensah said the GIS had also installed a data centre which helped to track people with fake documents and also provided records on the backgrounds of visitors.