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Prioritize tourism as we do for minerals in Ghana – Akwasi Agyeman

Mr Akwasi Agyeman, the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), says priority should be given to the development and marketing of the tourism industry to boost the sector and economy at large.

‘We are in a country that we are too blessed and sometimes do not see what we have. We are focusing on gold because we have gold, focusing on bauxite because we have bauxite, we are focusing on timber because we have timber. We are focusing on so many things. We do not see tourism as an industry that needs our attention and that is very unfortunate,’ he said.

Mr Agyemang made the call in a television programme while discussing the tourism industry in Ghana.

He decried the challenges in obtaining a visa for Ghana in comparison to other nations, arguing that this hindered the expansion of the tourism industry in Ghana.

‘To get a visa to go to Cuba is not as difficult as to get a visa to come to Ghana. If we look at access, we have put impediments on the way of those who will fly 10 hours and more to c
ome to Ghana.

‘At 2:00 am, I get calls that, we have large numbers of people coming to Ghana, but their passports are stuck at the Ghana Embassy. Why can’t we do an E-Visa, why can’t we do a visa on arrival?

‘The numbers in the Bahamas are incredible because it is easy to attract the numbers,’ he noted.

Mr Agyemang said Ghana would gain a lot if it acquired an airline or airline service to facilitate travel to ease international travel.

‘When we have numbers coming in, they would definitely eat at the restaurants and so restaurants would employ more, they would pay tax, they would go for site seeing and a lot more,’ he said.

According to Mr. Agyeman, the average tourist in Ghana spent about $2,900, with the money going to a variety of sectors such as trading, transportation, entertainment, and lodging.

He said Ghana’s reciprocal visa deal with South Africa brought 4,323 visitors to Ghana in 2023 and 7,500 tourists by May 2024.

‘Let’s make it easy for people to travel to Ghana. The yellow fever vaccinat
ion certificate required to travel into the country is about $300 which is too expensive,’ he stated and called on government to speed up especially with its E-Visa initiative.

‘If all the government agencies are seeing the same thing, then we will get there. Let us all sing from the same hymn book, let us all understand that it is a game changer for us.

‘I am quite positive that we will get there but I think we need to speed up, especially with the E-Visa,’ he said.

Mr Agyeman expressed concern about an excessive bureaucratic aspect in the nation’s tourism industry, stating that ‘it is our weakest link and bottlenecks to progress.’

Source: Ghana News Agency