Madam Paulina Patience Abayage, the Upper East Regional Minister has called on stakeholders in the tourism industry to invest in domestic tourism to encourage and boost patronage at the various tourism sites.
“Service excellence and the affordability of travel and accommodation packages will go a long way to encourage Ghanaians to travel and explore the country whilst fostering culture of travel,” the Minister stated, adding “I encourage business owners and all stakeholders in the tourism sector to partner with communities to drive domestic tourism.”
The Regional Minister said these in a speech read for her at the Upper East Regional Tourism Awards organized by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) at Zuarungu, the Capital of the Bolgatanga East District.
The 14th edition of the annual event was on the theme, “Celebrating Our Heritage”.
The Regional Minister underscored the significant contributions of the tourism industry to the socio-economic growth and development of the country through the preservation of cultural heritage, creation of employment and generation of foreign exchange to increase government’s revenue mobilization drive.
“Destination competitiveness is linked to the ability of a destination to deliver on experience of the highest quality. Tourists value experimental quality. We need to leverage on this to make Ghana competitive so that the 2020 vision of becoming one of the top 20 global tourist destinations can be attained,” Madam Abayage stressed.
This, the Regional Minister stated, would not only provide economic benefits to the country but it would further preserve and protect the varied Ghanaian identity being handed over by our fore fathers. The Regional Minister disclosed that the region was endowed with lots of tourist sites such as the Paga Crocodile Pond, the Pikworo Slave Camp, the Tongo Hills and Tengzu Shrine, the Sirigu Women Organization in Pottery and Art (SWOPA), the Bolgatanga Craft village among other hospitality facilities.
She said however that these attractions were faced with infrastructural and logistical challenges and indicated that it was imperative to encourage more entrepreneurs to invest in the sector to improve on service delivery.
Madam Abayage, said “government will continue to play its part in promoting tourism. It is working closely with the Ghana Tourism Authority, the business community and stakeholders to support the initiatives put in place to promote tourism and address the hindrances to tourism growth.”
For this reason, the Minister added, the GTA has earmarked the Paga Zenga Crocodile Pond for development to attract more tourists to the region and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2018 between the GTA, the Paga Traditional Authority and the Kassena-Nankana West District Assembly to that effect.
Mr Kwesi Anim-Larbi, Head of Human Resource at the head office of the GTA explained that this year has been declared “a year of return” which marks the 400th year since the first slave from West Africa entered the Europe. He added that the country is expecting about 500,000 visitors this year and called on hospitality owners to develop their facilities to attract these visitors.
He said when the visitors get good experiences and memories of the places they visit they will be motivated to frequently visit the country to enjoy these facilities.
In all 16 competitive and three honorary awards were given to deserving winners with the Upper East Regional Coordination Council honoured for being the most dedicated supporter of tourism programmes, DCOP Patrick Akolgo of the Blue-Sky Hotel in Bolgatanga, received the Tourism investor of the year and Hotel Amazin in Zebilla, the New Comer of the year under the Honorary category.
Under the competitive awards category, Mr Joshua Asaah of A1 Radio was adjudged the tourism writer of the year while Pio TV took the tourism-oriented media award.
Others are V3 Travel and Tours, tour operator of the year, Philmeek Catering Services, for consistent payment of tourism levy of the year for restaurants, SHCSC Guest house, consistent payment of tourism levy of the year for accommodation, SWOPA, Visitor attraction of the year, Salifu Awewozem, site guide of the year, Everest Planet, drinking bar of the year, Mcclean View, traditional caterer of the year, and Speedlink Fast Food and Restaurant, Fast food establishment of the year.
The rest are; Blue Sky Hotel, the Hotel of the year for 2-Star, JOCOM Golden Hotel, Hotel of the year for One-Star, Premier Lodge, Hotel of the year for budget, Eborics Lodge, Guest House of the year, Philmeek Catering Services, Restaurant of the year for Grade-2, and Swapy Restaurant, Restaurant of the year for Grade-3.