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Ghana to introduce e-visa next year to boost tourism

The Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Monday announced that the government would launch e-visa next year to facilitate easy visa acquisition and to boost the tourism industry.

In this way, he said, travelers did not need to visit the Embassies for visas, but only have to complete an online application form with details such as their names, digital addresses and passport numbers as well as the travel date.

Additionally, there would be a Single Air Transport Market to bolster air-transport and advance the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) operationalisation, as Ghana is hosting the AfCTA Secretariat.

Vice President Bawumia said this at the opening of the First Regional Congress on Women Empowerment in the Tourism Sector with focus on Africa, held on the theme: “Building the future together” in Accra.

He implored tourism stakeholders to use tourism as a means to tackle some of the common challenges facing Africa, including; poverty, illiteracy, diseases, outmoded cultural practices and mismanagement of the natural resources.

The two-day event attracted key stakeholders in the tourism industry in Africa and beyond,and high profile personalities including; Maria Begona Gomez Fernandez, the First Lady of Spain, Mrs Auxillia Mnangagwa, the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Mr Zurah Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation, Mr Ronald Chitotela, Chairperson of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Regional Commission for Africa, who is also the Minister of Tourism and Arts of Zambia.

The participants would deliberate on how Africa could enhance and utilise its rich tourism potentials to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), advance gender equality and protect the environment, as well as to improve the lots of the people.

The UN World Tourism Organisation’s 2016 Highlights report indicated that Africa received nearly 55.3 million international tourists in 2014, with the Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 63 per cent of the number.

Citing Africa 2063 Agenda for transforming the Continent into a global powerhouse, Vice President Bawumia urged African nations to align their tourism plans with the aspirations projected in the plan.

It was imperative for the African Union (AU) to oversee that there was consistent and sustainable tourism development across all member countries, he added.

“Advancing tourism’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) not only requires political will and private sector commitment, but also new and better financing framework, especially if we are to empower women and the youth to build the future together.

“Let’s increase the reach of multilateral development banks and donor countries to recognise women’s role in achieving the SDGs goals for tourism,” the Vice President said.

Vice President Bawumia said the Creative Arts Industry Bill was at the Cabinet level for consideration, and upon passage into law would, among other things, establish the Creative Arts Fund and an Agency to promote tourism’s contributions to national development.

He underlined the need for all stakeholders to work towards improving the tourism industry in Africa and empower women’s participation in the tourism sector for sustainable development.

He said it was imperative to improve on the timely collection, analysis and dissemination of tourism data in order to inform strategic decision making for all stakeholders in the sector.

“I indulge all of you to contribute generously to improve the industry and empower women in tourism for sustainable development and to improve the living standard of our people.

“We should promote our local content in all the sectors of the regional economy giving the enormous resources that have gone into developing human capital in our countries,” the Vice President advised the participants.

Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, in her welcome remarks, said the tourism, arts and culture sector was contributing significantly towards the economies of both developed and developing countries.

She said tourism had become a global competitive industry and being the fourth foreign exchange earner for the nation, contributing about three million dollars annually.

Mrs Oteng-Gyasi expressed government’s determination to implement innovative policies and leveraging on the tourism’s potential to create jobs, improve economic growth and ensure gender equality towards achieving the SDGs.

Source: GNA

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