Ghana’s tourism sector continues to lose substantial amounts of revenue following the closure of 34 castles and forts across the country for renovation over the last two years.
The gallery at the National Museum in Accra, which contains key national historical artifacts and monuments, has also remained closed for two years for repair works.
Renovation of the 34 castles and forts and the national gallery has stalled, according to the Deputy Director in charge of Projects at the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB), Mr Kingsley Ofosu Ntiamoah, due to lack of funds .
He told The Mirror that at the moment, only the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, both in the Central Region and Forts Apollonia and St Anthony in the Western Region, are accessible to tourists.
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Our castles and forts, which stretch from Beyin in the Western Region to Keta in the Volta Region, are generally regarded as national treasures.
The World Heritage Convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated them as World Heritage Monuments in 1979.
They feature prominently in the nation’s tourism spectrum.
Tourism’s contribution to GDP
The tourism sector is seen as one of the largest contributors to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which brings together all major players in travel and tourism, the sector directly contributed GH¢2.62billion ($727m) to Ghana’s GDP in 2013 alone.
The figure increased to GH¢4.5 billion in 2015 and was expected to rise by 2.7 per cent by the end of 2016.
Little repair work
The GMMB in a statement in 2015, said it had closed down the gallery at the National Museum for emergency works for a period of six months.
For almost two years after the notice, however, it appears very little repair work has gone on at the gallery, and the venue remains shut, causing the nation to lose vital income from tourists who are usually turned away as a result of the development.
When The Mirror visited the gallery, it observed that activities had virtually come to a standstill. There was an inscription: “Gallery under re-organisation for exhibition; please bear with us, thank you”, posted on its doors.
All the exhibits had been taken away from the gallery to pave the way for the re-organisation. However, the metallic roof which used to fall off often, had been replaced with corrugated roofing.
Reacting to the situation, Mr Ntiamoah said it was embarrassing to constantly turn away tourists due to the closure.
Though he could not state the amount of money that the GMMB had lost due to the closure of the tourist facilities, he pointed out that a large chunk of the board’s revenue was usually generated from them.
“They were our major sources of funds. As a result of their closure, our internally generated funds (IGF) have gone down drastically,” he said.
Mr Ntiamoah indicated that the priority of management was to mobilise funds to bring the closed facilities back to life.
He could not state the exact amount needed to get all the renovation done but pointed out it would take about GH¢2 million to complete work on the gallery.
“Our main focus now is to mobilise funds from corporate institutions and other relevant bodies to ensure that the renovation works are carried out swiftly,” he said.
Mr Ntiamoah noted that if corporate institutions responded quickly enough to the call, the facilities would be renovated and open to the public in no time.
It meant if their effort failed, the 34 castles and forts and the gallery at the National Museum would remain locked up.