The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr Akwasi Agyeman has intimated the need to underpin domestic tourism drive.
Speaking in an interview, he disclosed that there is a need for it because domestic tourism has reduced. He said the numbers gathered from the “Year of Return Initiative had reduced due to COVID-19.
“2019 was a very good year for us in terms of international arrivals but was also good for domestic tourism. We ended the year with about 650,00 people moving to certain tourist site.
“From 2017 we’ve had close to 500,000 to almost 600,000. In 2019 was 650,000. The numbers dropped significantly to due to COVID-19 to around 200,00 and clearly the restrictions were the major cause of that. Underpinning the domestic tourism drive is a need to improve upon our sites and attractions.”Akwasi Agyeman
Mr. Agyeman said there is the need to improve on domestic tourism regardless of restriction due to COVID19. He also said his outfit will relaunch its domestic tourism campaign to help improve the sector.
In improving tourism in the country, the Authority’s CEO said his outfit realised they didn’t have proper regulations in place. He disclosed that due to that from 2018 a legislative instrument was put in place and got passed by Parliament.
“The need for that law was because we realized that, our sites and attractions were scattered. They had different ownerships and different governing regimes. MOUs were signed with these attraction centre owners to help with effective regulation and infrastructure.”Akwasi Agyeman
Heritage sites not an easy fix
Touching on the depleting state of forts and castles in the country, he said “they are heritage sites and so, it is not an easy fix.”
Mr Agyeman explained that, the reason was due to the fact that the heritage sites are supposed to be preserved in a certain context. He said if improvements have to be made, they must acquire clearance from the world heritage sites leadership at UNESCO.
“I am not saying some improvement cannot be done but if you want to make some significant changes, there are some things you have to do.”Akwasi Agyeman
He indicated that plans are underway to improve some heritage sites in the country to help preserve it. Some sites, he disclosed, have already seen development. Additionally, he noted his outfit has also started registering and licensing tourist sites.
“It’s not like before when someone sees water fall behind his house and then the following day it becomes a tourist site. Now you have to go through a registration process. First, we have to get the laws in place. And in the new law, every tourist site must have a governing board with a representative from the community, tourism authority and other stakeholders.”Akwasi Agyeman
Speaking on community engagement, he said his outfit has community engagements and now traditional leaders are also inclusive in deliberating matters. He debunked claims that lack of engagement contributes to the low patronage of these sites.
He then revealed that, monitoring satellites are also being put in place to monitor various activities at the tourist sites.
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