The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has shut down 76 illegal hospitality facilities in the Bono and Ahafo regions for operating without the requisite licences from the authority.
In all, 70 facilities were closed down in the Bono Region and six in the Ahafo Region, for flouting various tourism regulations.
In the Bono Region, the facilities were made up of 30 hostels, 32 food and beverage spots and eight formal accommodations, while in the Ahafo Region, five hostels and one restaurant were closed.
According to the GTA, the owners of the facilities were either operating without valid licences, had failed to renew their licences, or had failed to register their facilities and were operating without the completion of their registration process.
The exercise was carried out by a combined enforcement team comprising staff of the authority and officers from the Ghana Police Service, who locked the facilities with padlocks, while the authority’s closure stickers were pasted at their entrances.
More to be closed
The Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regional Director of the GTA, Joseph Appiagyei, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that about 300 hospitality facilities in the three regions were likely to be closed down at the end of the enforcement exercise.
He explained that the government was losing revenue from the hospitality industry because of the illegalities and non-adherence to GTA regulations.
He said in June 2022, the authority announced its plans to commence a nationwide exercise to clamp down on all illegal operators to instill sanity in the tourism sector, explaining that the Tourism Act 817 of 2011, mandated the GTA to register and licence tourism sector operators.
He said the law stipulated that individuals should not operate tourism enterprises without a valid licence issued by GTA, but many of the operators in the region had flouted the law with impunity.
Mr Appiagyei said the annual licensing fee for food, beverage and entertainment facilities or informal operators was between GH¢20 and GH¢50, “but most operators are feeling reluctant to pay and that necessitated the action”.
He said while informal operators were supposed to pay between GH¢20 and GH¢50 for their licence fee each year, they also had to register and submit parts of the documents to the assemblies for them to be given a permit to operate.
Mr Appiagyei said the operators were also required to indicate whether they were renting the facilities and state the tenancy agreement between them and the property owners.
He explained that the sanitary inspectors of the assemblies had to examine or screen the facilities to ensure that the operators were located in a safe environment, before commencing operation.
Mr Appiagyei said the money required from the operators was not much, “but when I send my officers to the field to collect the revenue, the operators attack and insult them”.
He said operators who failed to comply with the GTA regulations would be sent to court for the law to take its course.
Mr Appiagyei advised the operators, who operated illegally, to comply with the laws and regulations of the authority, in order not to face court action.
He explained, however, that a facility could be reopened within 24 hours after management had settled its debt with the authority.