Members of Parliament (MPs) were contributing to the second reading of the Tourism Bill 2010 that sought to establish the National Tourism Authority to regulate the tourism industry in the country, on the floor of the House on Wednesday.
Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, MP for Bekwai, said charges by hotel operators were expensive and discouraging Ghanaians from touring their own country.
Dr Osei Akoto, NPP MP for Old Tafo, said hotel bills in Ghana were high as compared to other countries.
Mr E.T Mensah, Minister for Employment and Social Welfare and NDC MP for Ningo-Prampram, said tourists in Ghana spent four times what they would have spent in other African countries particularly South Africa, on hotel charges.
He called on the authorities to work towards reducing hotel charges to encourage Ghanaians to tour their country.
Mr E.T Mensah appealed to colleagues MPs to tour the country to enable them to gather adequate information so that they could effectively contribute to Parliamentary proceedings.
Mr David Tetteh Assumeng, NDC MP for Shai Osudoku, called on Government to develop more tourist sites to generate funds for development, and asked schools to integrate tourism into academic programmes.
Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, NPP MP for New Juabeng North, expressed worry that most hotels were being patronised only by foreigners because of the high charges.
He noted that one of the greatest income generating potentials for Ghana was tourism but unfortunately revenues that accrued from the sector was below imagination.
A report on the bill was presented by the Chairman of the Committee on Trade Industry and Tourism, Ahaji Amadu Sorogho, NDC MP for Abokobi-Madina.
He said that tourism had become a global and highly competitive socio-economic and environmental activity both in developed and developing countries.
Alhaji Sorogho said tourism has become the biggest and fastest growing industry world wide, which according to him stimulated other sectors such as agriculture, finance and manufacturing.
He noted that apart from generating foreign exchange earnings, tourism had the potentials of becoming an avenue for pro-poor development because of its ability to create jobs and wealth for rural economy as well as conserving natural resources.
Alhaji Sorogho said despite the role of tourism in national development and its role in conservation of historical, cultural and natural resources, there was no linkage between tourism and agencies that had direct responsibility for these resources.
He said there were laws on tourism but they dealt separately with hotels, wild life preservation, national museums and monuments and investment promotion among others.
Alhaji Sorogho indicated that coordination between tourism and agencies that enforced the laws, some of which impacted negatively on tourism promotion and growth, was weak.
He called for the creation of a linkage between tourism legislation and related laws to remove bottlenecks in the development of tourism.
Alhaji Sorogho said the bill was relevant for the promotion and sustainability of tourism in Ghana and called on the House to support it.