The Ministry of Tourism has denied allegations leveled against it by a Dutch NGO, the Ghana Tourist Information for Europe (GTI). The GTI claims the Ministry is not interested in promoting Ghana to European visitors who want to visit the country.
But Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr. Kobby Acheampong says the group’s allegations are untrue.
“We know about this NGO, but we have no formal relations with it,” he told ghanabusinessnews.com on the phone.
“Because we have no formal relations with the NGO it is difficult to know who bears the cost of their activities in the name of the country,” he said.
The group said “we stopped promoting tickets to Ghana, because the Ghanaian government doesn’t want tourists to come to Ghana,” indicating that Ghana is missing opportunities.
According to the group there are the problems of environmental dirt and the growing mismatch between product and price at certain destinations. “A growing number of visitors report disappointments about their visit to Kakum, Xavi, Bobiri and Wli. The prices have been raised beyond reason. The visitors reports that they are seen by Ghanaians as walking moneybags,” it said.
“We believe the Ghanaian tourist industry can grow substantially, but only if the industry and the Ghanaian institutions grab the opportunities. We are so to speak the foreign branch of the Ghana Tourist Board”, Eva van Dijk a director of the group which was formed in 2007 says.
According to her, “We talk to consumers, to press, to tour operators and we generate promotion for Ghana everywhere.”
But Mr. Acheampong asked “who wouldn’t like to see someone promote Ghana for free? Advertising Ghana is not a bad idea.”
He said because the Ministry has no formal relations with the group it is difficult to set aside any budgetary allocation in support of its activities.
He also indicated that the group had a meeting with the Executive Director of the Ghana Tourist Board and he also said the same thing. He asked for the formalization of the relationship to facilitate the group’s activities on behalf of the country.
Tourism is Ghana’s fourth foreign exchange earner. In 2008, projected tourists arrivals was pegged at 698,069 with receipts in monetary value amounting to $1.2 million, as against 586,612 arrivals in 2007 amounting to $1.17 million.
In 2005, however, the country earned $836 million from tourism.
Domestic tourism last year saw a total of 417,558 arrivals to the country, comprising 303,668 residents visiting 25 tourist sites and 113, 890 non-residents patronising domestic tourism.
Currently, tourism is one of the fastest growing sector in the economy and is expected to grow at an average rate of 4.1 % per annum over the next two decades.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi