By Benjamin Mensah, GNA
Accra, March 18, GNA – Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, the Minister Designate for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, has asked tourists to take advantage of the Year of Return, Ghana 2019, to boost the growth of the tourism sector.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in September last year, launched in Washington D.C. the « Year of Return, » which gave fresh impetus to the quest to unite Africans on the Continent with their brothers and sisters in the Diaspora.
At that event, President Akufo-Addo said: « We know of the extraordinary achievements and contributions they [Africans in the Diaspora] made to the lives of the Americans, and it is important that this symbolic year — 400 years later — we commemorate their existence and their sacrifices. »
The Minister Designate, who appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament to be vetted, urged the nation to take advantage of the event to increase the flow of tourism for better economic gains.
She said tourism had immense potentials to drive the Ghanaian economy and wondered why Ghana could not leverage on the « Year of Return » to promote history, tradition and culture in addition to making use of her vast resources of minerals for economic advantage.
Ghana, she said, is at the centre of the world geographically, and it was necessary to take advantage of that and other activities to attract more visitors to the country.
« Countries without any known natural resources had made use of their tourism potentials, which contributes millions of dollars to their GDP and Ghana, which abounds with a lot of natural resources, still had to work hard to pursue programmes to create traffic in the tourism sector, » she stated.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi expressed regret that Ghana lacked a well documented history of the mining industry, though mining had gone on for centuries, and proposed the establishment of a gold museum in the Western Region to attract more tourists.
Additionally, there is the need to improve the lot of mining communities and sanitation along the beaches to make them appealing to tourists.
The Minister Designate, who is also the MP for Prestea Huni Valley, said if given the nod, she would introduce an awards scheme to recognize communities with the cleanest beaches, adding; « We’ll continue to build and improve toilet facilities along the beaches. »
She called for a differentiation in the hotel billing system for different types of clients to ensure affordability.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said the Creative Arts had suffered neglect over the years because more attention was focused on Tourism and pledged to pay equal attention to the sector, when given the nod, to ensure balance.
« Since my nomination, I have also become aware of the dissatisfaction of the creative arts industry. I believe they feel a bit neglected because the Ministry started as the Ministry of Tourism and later on, the Creative Arts was brought under it. »
« As I come in, I am going to pay great attention to the Creative Arts sector. I will see them as my baby because they have come in later and, therefore, they deserve the attention to thrive. »
« When I assume office, I will engage them and get to know all their challenges and, together, strategise to make things work. »