The Tour Operators’ Union of Ghana (TOUGHA) has called for a regulatory framework that will compel tour operators and companies to operate legally in the country.
According to the Union, currently, there are only 110 tour operators who are professional, licensed and in good standing.
Speaking in an interview with the Graphic Business in Accra on November 16,2021, the President of TOUGHA, Mrs Alisa Osei-Asamoah, stated that when the sector was sanitised, it would ultimately enable the union to honour its tax obligations effectively, renew its licences, pay salaries of staff and boost revenue in the tourism industry in the long-run.
“Any individual or company that want to operate as a tour guide must first of all acquire a licence from the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and join the Union to be able to operate professionally and legally", she pointed out.
Mrs Osei-Asamoah expressed concern about the way some radio stations ran adverts on air for some tour operators and companies when indeed they were not licensed to operate.
“We are, therefore, marketing ourselves through the various media outlets and sensitising the public to let them know that we are the right people to deal with," she noted.
Mrs Osei-Asamoah observed that the (COVID-19) era had taught TOUGHA a lesson to ensure that the Union should not solely rely on tourist arrivals into the country to boost the industry but to rather whip up public interest in domestic tourism.
Post COVID-19 Era
She explained that the Union was trying to boost domestic tourism in the post COVID-19 era by sending out flyers on tourist sites on the various social media platforms adding that the Union had been able to negotiate with car rental companies, hotels and other key players in the hospitality industry to reduce their rates to encourage patronage.
That, she noted, would make touring of sites and interesting places attractive,affordable and competitive.
“COVID-19 has taught us a lesson and the key thing is we are now focussing on domestic tourism and this is where we are getting some revenue to break even" Mrs Osei-Asamoah stated.
She explained that now companies, families and holiday makers had all bought into the idea of domestic tourism and “at least we are getting something to pay our staff and over heads".
“It is important to take a break and go on a tour to tourist sites and interesting places; now it is affordable to do that to ensure that when you resume work you are refreshed and I must say domestic tourism is medicinal” she observed.
Mrs Osei-Asamoah stated that the GTA had signed a memorandum of understanding(MoU) with TOUGHA to operate a double-decker coach to enhance city tour of sites.
“The bus, which can pick 50 passengers at a time, is also for hiring purposes; adults pay GH¢ 60 while tertiary and primary students pay GH¢30 and GH¢20 respectively” she further revealed.
“Since the year 2000, our strategies have involved advocacy actions, capacity building and sensitisation programmes, investments in local infrastructure for the promotion of practices that are culturally sensitive, progressive as well
as economically viable and ecologically sustainable”she said.
TOUGHA is the body representing tour operators in the country. It is incorporated as a Limited by Guarantee Entity by the Registrar General’s Department of Ghana in accordance with the Companies’ Act of 1963 (Act 179)
and recognised by the GTA. It is also a member of the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) and affiliated to other continental and global tourism organisations.
TOUGHA was set up to, among other things, bring together registered tour operators and foster good working relationship among them.
The Union is also expected to influence tourism legislation and contribute to tourism development, ensure high standards in the quality of tourism products and services as well as create awareness for domestic tourism.
It also has the mandate of liaising with international institutions for the development of tourism and culture in Ghana.