Shutdown of Kwahu facilities good, but…

BY: Daily Graphic

The country’s aspiration is to become a destination of choice when it comes to tourism, hence the launch in the UK on April 3 of ‘Destination Ghana’, the government’s flagship tourism project, as a follow-up to an earlier project: ‘Beyond the Return’.

An earlier initiative to get many tourists trouping into the country before the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll in 2020 was the ‘Year of Return’.

Indeed, Ghana is blessed with many tourist sites and attractions, good weather and peace, which make the country very attractive to visitors.

The culture of its people, the varieties of food available for sampling, the welcoming nature of Ghanaians, which has become legendary, the exploits in sports and other disciplines and a host of other things make people want to visit the country to have a personal experience.

What has come up on many occasions as militating against this aspiration of making Ghana a tourism hub in Africa, though, is its very expensive and sometimes not very well kept but substandard hospitality facilities.

Comparably, Ghana’s hotels charge more for a night than what pertains in other countries, which is a big drawback to roping in all the gains that come with tourism.

For us to get it right in the hospitality sector, we need to streamline things there by making sure that all facilities have the requisite certification and conform to international standards.

The Daily Graphic believes that when that is done, many people will patronise the facilities, so there will be no need to charge exorbitantly to run them.

It is in this light that we laud the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) for embarking on an inspection of hospitality facilities in the Kwahu enclave to eliminate illegal operators and substandard facilities preparing to cater for guests during the Easter festivities.

The inspection on March 31, this year, in collaboration with the Nkawkaw Divisional Police, resulted in the shutting down of six out of the seven inspected facilities which were operating without licences.

According to the GTA, the facilities were closed down because they failed to meet the requirements provided under Legislative instruments (L.Is.) 2238 and 2239 (Tourism Regulations, 2016), which are: "Registration and Licensing of Food, Beverage and Entertainment Enterprise" and "Registration and Licensing of Tourist Accommodation", respectively.

The GTA said 17 other facilities within the Kwahu enclave had been earmarked for monitoring, as they did not qualify for the 2022 operational licence during the annual inspection conducted last year.

The Daily Graphic wonders why it takes the GTA a whole year to monitor facilities to ensure that they are operating within the confines of the law, as is the case of the 17 facilities that were last monitored last year. Is the period not too long?

It is reassuring that the GTA is making sure that patrons of the Kwahu Easter celebration this year get value for their money and are protected during the period by sending its officers to facilities to ensure that those facilities comply with all safety, health, quality service delivery and facility requirements, as stipulated by law and is consistent with their respective classifications.

With the presence of the Odweanoma Paragliding Site on the Kwahu Ridge, the festivities attract mammoth crowds, which include foreigners who also want to have an experience of flying in the air. This makes the monitoring timely.

The Kwahu Easter is an annual affair, but we need the GTA to be up and doing all across the country all-year round to promote local tourism, while we give foreign tourists the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality – one that will make them want to come back again and again.

Let’s ensure that throughout the year, no facility is allowed to operate without licence or with an expired licence. The facilities must offer proper water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services that will endear them to patrons, both local and international.