The government has released various packages to partners in the tourism industry and workers in other businesses as part of measures to cushion them from the hazardous effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The package which is expected to assist businesses to bounce back includes a GH¢60 million stimulus package to individual businesses and a GH¢50 million facility to support the media and creative arts industry.
The others are a GH¢3 billion facility to players in the hospitality industry, a GH¢5 million package for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and a GH¢4 million facility for other auxiliary operations.
The Minister for Tourism & Creative Arts, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, announced the relief package at a grand durbar to climax this year’s United Nations World Tourism Day (UNWTD) celebrations and exhibition at Takoradi in the Western Region.
The celebration, which was on the theme: ‘Tourism & Rural Development’, commenced with a virtual symposium via Zoom, followed by a health walk, a tree planting exercise, a sod-cutting for Damang Arts Training Centre and a musical concert at Bogoso.
Mrs. Oteng-Gyasi said the tourism sector chalked up remarkable successes in the ‘Year of Return’ in 2019, but that the gains had been eroded by the Covid-19 pandemic; hence, the prudent measures being taken by the government to promote tourism and preserve national and cultural heritage.
According to her, the industry will bounce back with more attention being focused on the tourist potentials in rural Ghana to accelerate rural development.
The minister said Ghana had received the ‘safest tourism stamp’ among the comity of nations, a feat which can boost tourism and increase the gross domestic product (GDP).
The ministry, she explained, would improve upon sanitation at the beaches to harness tourist potentials, to improve visitors’ experience and improve physical ambiance at Ankasa Forest, Fort St. Anthonio at Axim and Beyin Fort near Nzulenzo.
The Omahene of Essikado Traditional Area, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, who chaired the durbar, described the Western Region as “a sleeping giant of tourism in Ghana” and stressed the need to reawaken the cultural consciousness of people in the region to locate the tourist sites and develop them.
He added that tourism cannot thrive in a violent society; hence, the need to consolidate the peace and tolerance of opposing views.
Nana Kobina Nketsia reminded Ghanaians to celebrate the patriots of Ghana, festivals, forts, castles and monuments such as museums to make them part of their heritage.