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Destination Ghana launched - projects targets a million tourists from UK, Europe annually

BY: Donald Ato Dapatem
‘Destination Ghana’ launched to target million tourists from UK, Europe annually
President Akufo-Addo (4th from left) with Papa Owusu Ankomah (left), Ghana's High Commissioner to the UK; Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (3rd from left), the Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr Mohammed Awal (2nd trom right), the Minister of Tourisnt: Akwasi Agyemang (right). CEO, GTA, and other dignitaries after the launch

The country has launched a flagship tourism project, Destination Ghana, to whip up interest among travellers around the world to look to Ghana to satisfy their leisure and adventure curiosities.

Riding on the back of vast ecological and unique heritage sites across the country, the project seeks to attract, by 2024, one million tourists annually from the United Kingdom and Europe.

Beyond leisure and adventure, Destination Ghana also encourages tourists to take advantage of the country’s friendly investment laws to establish businesses and other economic ventures.

It is a sequel to the success of Ghana's Year of Return marked in 2020, just before COVID-19 struck, which did not only put the country in the global spotlight but also brought in nearly $2 million by way of spending.

The project also comes under the Beyond the Return concept, which seeks to build on the Year of Return by encouraging people of African descent everywhere in the world, particularly North America, Europe and the Caribbean, to return to the motherland and take advantage of friendly investment laws to establish businesses and other economic ventures.

“I want to invite you, here in London and Britain, Europe and the rest of the world, to the Centre of the World, where Longitude Zero degrees crosses Latitude Zero degrees; where the bright sunshine enriches the quality of the skin and bodies of all; where music, dance and culture not only create fun but also excite the body, soul and mind for spiritual growth.

“Indeed, I welcome you to Ghana, the Centre of the World, to enjoy our famed hospitality and take advantage of our favourable investment climate,” President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo declared when he launched Destination Ghana in London last Sunday.

He noted that with a steady recovery in the tourism sector after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in nature-based adventure and leisure tourism had grown, offering new opportunities to visitors.

“Ghana has an abundance of these offerings, and that is what we are here to present to the world, using our historical connection with the United Kingdom as a launch pad,” the President said.

He indicated that the tourism industry offered a great avenue to deepen Ghana-Britain relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

“We can turn the tourism and hospitality industry into a major tool for the positive transformation of the Ghanaian economy and into a win-win situation for investors,” he stated.

Best business place

The President said the country was not only gifted with a rich culture but was also the best place for doing business in West Africa, as well as the safest and most stable country in the sub-region.

He explained that Ghana was endowed with a governance system that rested on the separation of powers, with an independent Judiciary promoting accountability in public life and respected the rule of law, human rights and the principles of democratic accountability.

President Akufo-Addo said for several years, the country had been the recipient of the largest foreign direct investments in West Africa.

He noted that in addition to the abundance of natural resources, Ghana had, over the last few years, embarked on a product improvement plan, with many tourist sites currently undergoing renovation.

They included the Aburi Botanical Gardens, modelled after the famous Kew Botanical Garden in London, and the Yaa Asantewaa Memorial Museum and the Kente Museum, both in Kumasi, he said.

Investments in tourism

President Akufo-Addo said his administration had added an aggressive sector skills development initiative under the Ghana CARES Obaatan pa Programme, which involved the investment of GH¢100 billion in selected sectors of the economy to engender the post-COVID-19 economic recovery of the country.

He explained that the Ghana Tourism Authority was implementing the tourism bit of Ghana CARES, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

He revealed that this year alone about $25 million would be expended to upgrade some iconic sites, including the famous Elmina and the Cape Coast castles, the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum, the Mole and the Kakum National parks and the cultural museums in Yendi in the Northern Region, Ejisu in the Ashanti Region, Akropong in the Eastern Region and Ho in the Volta Region.

He said the works were under the Ghana Tourism Development Project, supported by the World Bank.

In addition to that, the President noted that funds would be directly injected into supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the hospitality and the beverages sectors, with negotiations currently ongoing with the World Bank.

“This $40-million project is expected to position the tourism and the hospitality sectors as key drivers of social and economic development. Some of the benefits that the project is expected to bring are an enriched access to Ghana’s tourism market, better provision of tourism products and services and the upgrading of skills in the labour force in the tourism, arts and culture sector,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo said Ghana needed the support of business partners the world over and challenged the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and its agencies to ride on the back of the Destination Ghana project to attract, by 2024, one million tourists annually from Britain and Europe.

“I have made my contribution by lifting, a week ago, virtually all the COVID-19 restrictions, including the opening of all Ghana’s borders, to enhance movement in and out of Ghana, while still maintaining the hygiene protocol, such as the wearing of face masks at indoor gatherings,” he added.