Hotels in Ghana feel heat
Spiraling taxes, multi-agency fees and the recent hike in the utilities at the time when room occupancies are dipping, could stretch the hotel business down the bottom line.
Herbert Acquaye, National President of the Ghana Hotels Association made these observations on Thursday, while addressing the Third National Executive Council Meeting of the Association in Ho.
He said the rate of water and electricity “is having a tremendous effect on cost of operations”, especially on “very small facilities which make only marginal profits”.
Mr Acquaye said the situation needed “bold steps if we are to survive the times.”
He said the Association had approached the Energy Commission and Energy Foundation to assist hotel business owners to reduce consumption of both water and electricity.
Mr Acquaye said “each individual hotel must adopt some or all of the methods that we shall share with you” which include “using alternate power solutions, boreholes, water recycling as well as solar, bio-gas and wind turbines for electricity”.
He said as room occupancies plunged, across the country, reflecting very poor tourism receipts” the industry “is saddled with multiplicity of taxes from many different agencies, each one demanding its pound of flesh”.
The theme of the meeting was “Promoting Hotel Service Standards”.
Mr Acquaye said the two issues combined had created a situation where most investors “are starting to query the hotel business and its profitability compared to other businesses”.
“Growth seems to be slowing down, as some facilities change their use and others shut down.
“There are very few new facilities in development and hardly any expansions or refurbishments as the cost of operations soar.
“There clearly must be some interventions,” Mr Acquaye stated.
He proposed government stirred growth, by encouraging the flexible use of regulations of new developments, expansions and refurbishments, make available low interest credit as stimulus and an improvement of Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) marketing of Ghana abroad to entice tourists.
Mr Acquaye asked the authorities to introduce “a lot more of promotional packages for both local and international visitors”, such as when there were funerals.
He also demanded that the one per cent Tourism Levy, whose collection started in September 2012, was not being managed as programmed, as there was no Board in place.
“We urge the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts to establish the Board,” Mr Acquaye stated, adding, the “Ghana Hotels Association shall lead a transparency initiative to monitor the collection, receipts and disbursements”.
He observed that after the Westgate terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya and Ghana becoming a target, security at hotels had become a national issue and that the facilities must take security issues seriously.
This meant that hotels have to train their staff to be vigilant and registration of guests done properly, liaising appropriately with the Ghana Immigration Service, Mr Acquaye stated.
On standards the Hotels Association President said there could be no meaningful strides without benchmark standards, observing that there were “a lot of complaints by customers about lack of professional standards in our service delivery”.
He said the Association must change this situation through collective effort.
Mr Acquaye said the Association was “evolving service standard that will guide our policies and procedures as well as our training plans,” and urged regulators to equally develop this criteria for inspections and grading”.
Mr Francis Koku Dagba, Volta Regional Chairman of the Association called on government and other stakeholders to build the infrastructures that would make the many tourism attractions in the Region visible, accessible and inviting.
He asked government to reflect on the importance of the tourism trade when fixing taxes and also the assemblies to involve the Association in “fee fixing resolutions”.
Mr Francis Ganyaglo, Deputy Volta Regional Minister suggested the Association presented proposals to government on ways to develop the various segments of the hospitality industry as government was not unaware that tourism was big business.
He said service standards must be set high so that visitors would want to repeat their visits.
Togbe Kotoku XI, Paramount Chief of the Kpenoe Traditional Area, who chaired asked hoteliers to give guests opportunities to savor exotic Ghanaian liquors and other drinks.