Story: Nehemia Owusu Achiaw & Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
PRESIDENT John Agyekum Kufuor at the weekend inaugurated the refurbished City Hotel, now christened Golden Tulip Kumasi City, with the firm assurance that the government was determined to restore life to state hotels that had been left to go to waste over a long period of time.
He stated that some of the hotels were sold “under questionable conditions and sale terms”, and added that the government was looking for funds to buy them back to pave the way for their restoration.
President Kufuor said the former City Hotel constituted one of the important national hotels rated in the same class as the Ambassador Hotel in Accra, Atlantic Hotel in Takoradi and the Meridian Hotel in Tema, but mismanagement had plunged them into ruins.
The $21.2-million four-star Golden Tulip Kumasi City, constructed by the China State Hualong Construction Ghana Limited, is owned by the Ghana Libyan-Arab Holding Company (GLAHCO), a joint investment venture between the Ghana Government (40 per cent) and the Libyan Government (60 per cent).
It was financed by the Libyan Arab African Investment Company ($4.5 million), the Government of Ghana ($3.7 million) and the Ghana Commercial Bank, which granted a loan of $13 million.
The 160-room hotel has other facilities, including a la carte restaurant, a lobby bar, a poolside bar, health club facilities, a swimming pool, conference and meeting rooms.
GLAHCO entered into an agreement with Golden Tulip Hospitality Group of the Netherlands to manage the hotel, which, at full capacity, is expected to offer employment to about 140 people.
President Kufuor said the rebirth of the hotel was timely, coming at a time Kumasi was hard pressed for hotel facilities to accommodate football teams from four nations and thousands of officials and fans for the 26th African Cup of Nations. “With this hotel and other amenities, Kumasi is ready to co-host the event,’ the President said.
Emphasising the tourism potential of Kumasi in particular and the Ashanti Region in general, President Kufuor said, “Often visitors to Ghana want to experience the indigenous culture, so they will continue to travel up country. That is why facilities must be available to house them when they come”.
He noted the infrastructure the government continued to put in place to open up the country and said that was a clear testimony of the government’s resolve to change the “development face” of the country for the better.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, traced the history of the divestiture of the former City Hotel, which dates back August 1996, when the company, Ace Hotels and Resorts Limited, acquired it.
He said problems arose in the implementation stage leading to a legal dispute between Ace Hotels and GLAHCO, which delayed the rehabilitation for a long period, prompting the Government of Ghana to intervene to settle the matter out of court in 2004.
He praised President Kufuor for his massive support in having the dispute settled out of court.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr E.A. Owusu-Ansah, expressed the hope that the completion of the project would mark the beginning of more projects from Libya to the region.
He called on the management of the hotel to create avenues for the promotion of domestic tourism, conference tourism and also the rich Ashanti culture.
The Managing Director of GLAHCO, Mr Abdulhamid Karmus, was confident that the hotel would be successful, taking into consideration the political, economic and social importance of the city of Kumasi.
The Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, said with the up-coming African Cup of Nations, the rebirth of the hotel was an exciting moment for the ministry.