The Ministry of Tourism has stepped up efforts to increase jobs in the tourism sector to a million in the medium term, the sector Minister, Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, has said.
He said his outfit intended to achieve that feat by adding to the existing 670,000 sustainable jobs through the development of tourist sites to boost domestic tourism.
Dr Awal said this when he paid a courtesy call on the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, in Kyebi in the Abuakwa South municipality in the Eastern Region last Friday as part of his working tour of the area.
Dr Awal was accompanied by the Deputy Tourism Minister, Mr Mark Okraku Mantey; the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr Akwasi Agyeman; the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Seth Kwame Acheampong, and the Eastern Regional Director of the GTA, Mr Frederick Adjei-Rudolph.
The Tourism Minister said the ministry had begun the redevelopment of some existing tourist sites across the country, as well as exploring new sites to attract more international tourists.
Appeal for sites
As part of the initiative to expand the tourism sector to create more jobs and generate more revenue, the minister appealed to the Okyenhene to propose two untapped tourist sites in the Akyem Abuakwa State to be developed by the government, in collaboration with the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council.
He gave an assurance that under his tenure, tourism would see a paradigm shift to make the sector the leading contributor to gross domestic product (GDP).
According to him, the hospitality sector was the fourth highest contributor to GDP, but he was poised, as directed by President Nana Akufo-Addo, to make the sector the number one contributor before the end of his tenure.
The Okyenhene urged the minister to remain focused and do well to leave behind physical structures for which his tenure and that of the President could be remembered.
Osagyefuo Ofori Panin said he agreed with the President's vision to make the sector the number one contributor to GDP, but said it could only be achieved if the right structures were put in place and investment made to develop tourist sites, just as other countries had done.
On the proposal for two tourist sites in the municipality, the Okyenhene asked the minister to take advantage of the rich Atiwa Forest, which contains different species of wildlife, to construct a national park there.
The park should also come with a museum that projected the rich culture, history and artefacts of Okyeman, he added.
Osagyefuo Ofori Panin also called for the expansion of the Bunso Eco Park to attract more tourists.