Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, on Monday visited some tourist sites in Accra to equip himself with the infrastructural shortcomings of the system and find better ways to address them.
Monday’s tour of the Greater Accra region rises to 10, the number of regions the minister visited to get first-hand information on the sites and work to make them attractive to local and international tourists.
Dr Awal said there are plans to go to all 16 regions of Ghana to see the tourist attractions so that what needs to be developed is done to acceptable standards and new ones created if necessary.
“The government’s objectives are to develop at least two emblematic sites in each of the 16 regions. Ghana is now number three in West Africa ahead of Senegal and Gambia and we don’t think that’s enough. We believe that Ghana is so big, endowed and involved in tourism that by the end of 2024, we want Ghana to be the most attractive tourist country in West Africa.
He said: “That’s why we visit these sites to see where to partner with traditional authorities and communities to improve the sites. We are the most peaceful nation in West Africa with very diverse cultures and so many forts and castles and these are unique selling points that Ghana can develop.
Some of the tourist sites visited include the National Museum, James Town Lighthouse and Receptive Facility, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Labadi Pleasure Beach.
The sector minister has pledged to provide an amount of GHC 800,000 next month for the completion of the renovation works of the National Museum gallery by the end of September.
He said that “by doing so, the work would be completed on time and the gallery would be open to the public by the end of the year to create more jobs and income for the country.”
At La Pleasure Beach, Mr. Akwasi Agyemang, Chief Executive of the Ghana Tourism Authority, said that the ministry had found funds under the Ghana Cares program to develop model beaches and that the point of Departure was La Pleasure beach.
He said that for the ministry and its executing agencies to undertake this plan, the new legislative instrument which had certain guidelines should be followed. A master plan of the land to be financed must be drawn up as soon as possible.
“It’s to make sure that the issue of employment, leases, everything has to be done right, including environmental and safety issues. The funding is ready and the ministry is ready and serious to develop the place.
Mr Agyemang noted that the sector minister was advocating for the reopening of beaches, but for that to happen he needed to ensure protocols were followed.
“There are new guidelines that we are bringing in so we would come and sit with you to discuss the new protocols as that would be the model beach for others to emulate.”
He assured those responsible for the facility that the ministry would engage the traditional leaders, assembly and community to ensure that the operators of the site would not be removed but would upgrade their facilities to the required standards, adding however that they would find a way to work with them to move those on trails or walkways.
At James Fort and Kwame Nkrumah Museum, the minister assured that the ministry would upgrade them to meet international standards to attract more local and international tourists.
He urged the directors to support the president and ministry’s agenda to put tourism at the forefront of the economy.