The President of the Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), Mr Gordon Adoboe, has stated that the union will take advantage of President John Evans Atta Mills’ declaration of this year as ‘Action Year’ to invigorate the tourism industry in order to attract more visitors into the country.
Mr Adoboe said, “In every country, it is the President who determines the pace of the economic, political and social development and once the President has declared action, we in the private sector, which is considered to be the engine of growth have to conform”.
According to Mr Adoboe, who spoke to the Daily Graphic, said once a conducive environment is created, all sector players would have to respond.
He said the pace of tourism development in Ghana was slow and that there was the need to rigorously overhaul the sector through the development of infrastructure, safety and security, as well as improvement in social issues to make the work of tour operators easier and less strenuous.
Mr Adoboe expressed regret that some of the country’s high commissions and embassies did not see the important role of tourism in Ghana’s economic development and, therefore, remained hostile to prospective visitors who applied to these missions for visas to visit the country.
He said the posture of the missions’ staff abroad was not helping the development of the industry and served as a disincentive to prospective visitors to Ghana.
He, therefore, called for an improvement in visa application procedures by making them more tourism-friendly.
He, however, called for security checks on the backgrounds of prospective tourists to Ghana, so that unscrupulous ones among them, such as drug peddlers, sex tourists and pedophiles would be refused entry into the country.
According to Mr Adoboe, the illegal and immoral activities of those class of deviants had destroyed the tourism potential in some countries and added that “Ghana is a country of people with rich culture and whose decency should not be adulterated by foreign influences”.
Mr Adoboe said Ghana was getting close to the one million tourist visits per year target and stressed the need to market the country adequately and professionally so that the target could be attained.
He expressed regret that Ghana had “not been able to take advantage of President Obama’s visit which we could have been packaged to boost the image of the country as the preferred tourists’ destination”.
“It behoves the Ministry of Tourism, the Ghana Tourists Board and other industry players to work in harmony to repackage Ghana and promote her in countries where business can be generated”, he added.
Mr Adoboe mentioned Nigeria as one of the countries whose citizens could be encouraged to visit Ghana because that desire had been there for sometime now.
He said their influx into the country would have caused Ghana to hit the one million mark if attention had been paid to this lapse.
The TOUGHA President called on the government to play the lead role in improving tourism as was being done in countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, France, the US, Germany, the” United Kingdom and Australia, where tourism was held dearly to the heart.
He said officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Ghana Immigration Service, the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, the Airport Company Limited should be tutored to understand the importance of tourism to the country’s economy so that they could be friendlier to prospective tourists.
Mr Adoboe expressed the hope that the new Minister of Tourism, Ms Akua Sena Dansua, would bring on board fresh ideas that would lead to the growth of the industry.
He urged the new minister to listen to the concerns on the ground, especially those of industry players and refrain from focussing on policies and programmes which would only suit the government.
Source: Daily Graphic