This was disclosed by the Minister for Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Ms Akua Sena Dansua, in a speech read on her behalf, at the formal opening of this year’s Methodist Religious Tourism Festival(Methofest) at Koforidua at the weekend.
The festival, which coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the independence of the Methodist Church, Ghana from the British Methodist Conference on 28 July 1961, is to showcase the achievements of the church in the various dioceses throughout the country.
The theme for the celebration is: “The Methodist Church of Ghana, 50 years of Autonomy; Achievements and Challenges.”
Ms Dansua explained that domestic tourism promotes national cohesion and brotherliness, which are critical for national development and gave the assurance that her Ministry would totally support the Methodist Church and other interested stakeholders to promote domestic tourism.
She said tourism is a powerful catalyst for economic growth, job creation, redistribution of wealth and poverty reduction.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Eastern Regional Minister, Dr Kwasi Akyem Apea-Kubi, called on Ghanaians to search for peace, unity and healthy dialogue that could lead to development, progress and prosperity.
He urged Ghanaians not to allow their differences of opinion or diversity of thought to separate them from one another or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in their hearts.
Dr Apea-Kubi expressed regret that the political climate currently emphasizes differences, disunity and destruction, rather than the qualities of unity, productivity and constructive engagement that are required for national growth.
He, therefore, encouraged the Church to pray for unity and peace.
The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, the Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, called on the bishops of the 15 Diocese of the Church to make sufficient budgetary resources available to ensure that, by 2013, they put up reasonable tourism packages for their dioceses.
He explained that the Methofest was established to encourage the church and its various branches to keep and preserve its heritage like historical documents, artefacts, articles, sites, buildings and memorabilia for posterity.
The Presiding Bishop said the dioceses were expected to assemble and showcase the artefacts and materials gathered from time to time at the diocesan centres with the objective of establishing diocesan museums, historical sites and buildings for domestic and international tourism.
The Very Rev. Cdr. E. O. Arthur, Acting Director of the History, Archives and Library Division of the Church, appealed for support for the construction of the Methodist Church Ghana Heritage Centre to house the project.
He also appealed for 35,000 Pounds Sterling to be given to the Public Records and Achieves Administration Department of the Ghana Civil Service to enable it to repair some 98 very important church documents deposited with that department.