Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
THE Chief Director of the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Mrs Bridget Katsriku, says the tourism industry is expected to grow from the 12 per cent per annum it has achieved in the past two years to 20 per cent by the close of this year.
She said the ministry was targeting the rural areas in its investment drive, saying that attractive incentive packages were, therefore, being provided for investors who wished to invest in the tourism sector in the rural areas.
Mrs Katsriku was speaking in Kumasi at the joint inauguration of a training school in travel and tours and an agency of Starline Travel and Tours Limited. The school and the agency are part of the first phase of the company’s expansion programme to strategic areas of the country.
The syllabus of the training institute is tailored to turn out professionals who are deeply rooted in the tourism industry and are ready to contribute positively to the development of the industry in the country.
Mrs Katsriku mentioned one of the incentive packages as five years of exemption from the payment of corporate tax for some projects sited in rural areas.
She, therefore, challenged Ghanaian investors to take advantage of the opportunity to invest in the industry, especially in the hotel and restaurant sectors.
Pointing out the importance of the various services in the tourism sector, including ticketing, tour operation, accommodation, meals and transportation, Mrs Katsriku stressed the need for them to work as a team to provide quality services in their individual areas of expertise to provide tourists the satisfaction they needed.
The chief director, however, noted that “quality service cannot be provided without continuous training”.
“It is for this reason that the management of Starline Travel and Tours and Training Institute has to be highly commended for extending its facilities to Kumasi to provide not only travel and tour services but also train the youth in travel and tours,” she added.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Starline Travel and Tours, Nana Prempeh Annin-Bonsu, called for action to address the domestic constraints to tourism development in the country.
“For instance, we need to develop coherent strategies to facilitate access to tourism sites and help develop local capacities to ensure the commercial viability of tourism products in terms of product quality, pricing and marketing,” he said.
He noted that the reported $400 million that Ghana derived from tourism annually was inadequate and said efforts must be made by all concerned to rake in the needed revenue.
Nana Annin-Bonsu urged the government to develop strategies that would create the environment for the development and promotion of tourism in Ghana.
He said in extending its operations to Kumasi, the company had fulfilled an objective to contribute in providing students of its institute with skills that would help change the face of the industry for the better.
He promised quality service in the travel and tour business for the people of Kumasi.
The Juabenhene, Nana Otuo Serebuor II, who represented the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, commended the company for its foresight and expressed the hope that its coming to Kumasi would be a blessing for the people.