Ghana earned about $1.6 billion from tourism as the fourth largest foreign exchange earner last year after gold, cocoa and remittances from Ghanaians resident abroad.
Mrs Zita Okaikoi, Minister of Tourism, said tourism contributed about 6.2 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year.
She was addressing a press conference on the two-day 2010 Ghana International Tourism Investment Forum (GITIF) scheduled for Accra from July 26-27.
The forum being organised as part of this year’s Emancipation Day celebration is under the theme: “Ghana-Time to Explore: The Role of the Investor in the Tourism Sector”.
Mrs Okaikoi said as a service sector, tourism was labour-intensive and a major job creator especially for young people, women and indigenous communities who host tourists and created direct and indirect employment to 260,000 Ghanaians in 2009.
She said third quarter investment report for 2009 indicated that out of new projects estimated at about 267.25 million dollars, investments in the tourism sector was 55.61 million the second after agriculture of 99.08 million dollars.
Mrs Okaikoi said the forum was expected to bring together local and international investors, practitioners, lecturers, and students of tourism to discuss the future of tourism industry in Ghana, stimulate investment in tourism to boost its development.
In addition, it would create a sustained forum for industry players to share ideas and exchange information on current issues and international best practices in the sector, while establishing a network of industry players for the benefit of Ghana’s tourism industry.
Mrs Okaikoi said participants at the forum would be given the opportunity to participate in some activities of the Emancipation Day Celebration such as the Assin Praso durbar on Friday, July 30, reverential night at Cape Coast and the grand durbar at Assin Manso on Saturday, July 31.
She called on Corporate Ghana, tourism and tourism related industry practitioners, the academia, Metropolitan, Municipal and District assemblies to participate in the forum.