The hospitality sub-sector is now creating two out of every 10 jobs in the country, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has said.
The President also revealed that the sub-sector became the third largest contributor to the country’s total productivity, measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), coming after cocoa and, oil and gas.
The President said whereas the advent of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 saw a decline in the sector’s growth evidenced by the 75 per cent decline in international tourism arrivals for that year and 45 per cent reduction in 2021, the rebound of the sector this year was hinged on very strong initiatives by the government to improve growth.
At the opening of the Tema branch of the indigenous hotel range, Alisa Hotel, in Tema last Friday, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the government was a cheerleader for the private sector and would continue to introduce policy initiatives aimed at creating an enabling environment for the private sector to flourish.
The 52-bed hotel, an addition to the Alisa Hotels Group, now brings to three the group’s hotel offerings, having started with a small branch in Labone and then its signature facility at North Ridge, both in Accra.
President Akufo-Addo acknowledged the economic difficulties confronting the country and said in spite of the current difficulties, “we will continue to build a business friendly environment that will enhance entrepreneurship, a vital component of economic growth and development which has been globally embraced as an important driver of economic activity and transformation.”
To that end, the government would use tourism as an effective tool for economic transformation to create jobs and prosperity for the people, the President stated.
“That is why the government, with the support of international partners, is investing heavily in key tourism attractions which will in turn boost tourism arrivals this year and beyond,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo reiterated plans to build a state of the art tourism and hospitality training school in Accra, and stated that the $10million facility would serve West Africa and provide customer care training to operators in the hospitality value chain.
He emphasised that the development of the capacity of tourism players was critical to Ghana’s quest to be the best tourism destination in West Africa.
“When customers are happy and delighted they do not only stay longer in hotels but also spend more, hence our focus in the next 18 months is to exploit our culture, heritage, history, hospitality and beautiful natural scenery to attract tourists, fun lovers and leisure seekers to gain an experience in our country,” the President said.
The President pointed out that as part of a product improvement initiative, several tourist sites, including the Aburi Botanical Garden, the Yaa Asantewaa Memorial Museum and the Kente Museum in Kumasi, were being rehabilitated.
“This year alone, it is expected that some $25 million will be expended to upgrade some of our iconic sites, including the Elmina and Cape Coast Castles, the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, the Mole and Kakum National Parks and Cultural Museums in Yendi, Ejisu, Akropong and Ho under the Ghana Tourism Development Project supported by the World Bank,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
He commended management of the Alisa Group, particularly its Group Chairman, Kwame Ofosu Banfo for the investments and noted that the new facility and other associated investments were as a result of dedication, commitment and hard work which he said, would go to support the government’s vision to market the country as an exciting destination for leisure, conferences, sports, health, education and cultural tourism.
The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Art and Culture, Mark Okraku Mantey, indicated that the ministry was determined to train about 2,000 people in the sector, particularly in the area of customer service.
So far, he said, about 800 people had undergone training aimed at improving service delivery which had been lacking in the sector.
Alisa Tema has standard facilities such as conferencing halls, a swimming pool with cabbanas, a tennis court, gym, bars and restaurants, a sky bar which offered a scenic view of the Tema Township, among other facilities.
Mr Bamfo, said the defunct Meridian Hotel provided an inspiration for the Alisa Tema dream.
He said the company had grown significantly and succeeded in providing employment for over 750 persons as a group, with the Alisa range of hotels alone employing up to 500 people.
The hospitality industry, Mr Bamfo said, was a powerful generator of career opportunities.
“Ghana is no exception and the hospitality industry has great prospects in assisting the government to achieve one of its key agenda of employment creation,” Mr Bamfo said.
He also appealed to the government to offer some incentives to the industry in relation to access to cheaper credit to help boost operations in the industry and create more jobs for the youth, both skilled and unskilled.