Govt Launches Tourism Development Project Grants

Barbara Oteng-Gyasi at the launch and Actress Akorfa Edjeani at the launch

Government has launched a tourism development project grant for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and tourism enterprises in Ghana.

The Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, speaking at the launch of the $9 million grants on Wednesday, June 24 at the Information Ministry in Accra, said the Akufo-Addo administration in its quest to improve leisure tourism in this country, solicited for a facility from the International Development Agency of the World Bank Group to implement the Ghana Tourism Development Project.

She indicated that the $9 million grant is a World Bank Group Grants Scheme.

According to her, the Tourism Development Project has four main components.

The first component which is ‘Strengthening Tourism Enabling Environment’ aims to address tourism enabling constraints most likely to have transformative impact on the tourism sector in Ghana such as training and skills development of the industry, aviation and entry visa policy, and tourism branding and marketing

The second component focuses on ‘Developing Tourism Sites and Destinations’. This seeks to diversify the leisure tourism offering in Ghana by identifying and upgrading the most promising destination areas. These are sites that show significant public goods requirements and circuit-tourism potential, and can draw increased demand from both domestic and international visitors.

With the third component being ‘Tourism Enterprise Support’, its objective is to provide tourism SMEs with the opportunity to improve their business planning, formalise their businesses, and apply for matching grants to upgrade their tourism products and services.

The fourth component which is ‘Project Management’ will provide support to Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture (MoTAC) to manage and coordinate the project.

Since approval was given for the project implementation, she stated that government has achieved some successes, despite certain initial implementation challenges at the onset.

“I am happy to report that the project has embarked on renovation of selected tourist sites and these activities are at various levels of completion,” she highlighted.

“We are also working on the human resource capacity of the industry players and very soon we will outdoor the plans for the establishment of state of the art tourism and hospitality training institutions in selected regions of the country.

I am happy to say that the beneficiaries to be supported under this grant scheme comprise mainly Ghanaian indigenous businesses in the tourism value chain, including micro-businesses that employ between one to five persons, small businesses that employ between six to 30 people, and medium businesses that employ 31 to 100 people.”

In addition to the above, she added that the project’s intervention encourages support to women-owned and or women-led businesses in the tourism sector.

“We have worked on all modalities that are required to enable us disburse the Grants within the next few weeks. Notably among the activities is the engagement of a grants management firm. An experienced entity in grants administration whose role, among others will be to reconcile the financial records of the grantee, collect and verify end-of-project information on performance targets and data and execute disbursement,” she stated.

“A five-member grants committee to supervise the execution of the grant scheme has also been put in place.

Hon. Ministers, I wish to thank the World Bank Task Team for their support in going through the processes to ensure efficient disbursement of the fund.”

Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Mafo indicated that “tourism is uniquely positioned to help the societies and communities to promote and retain growth and stability because of its cross-cutting economic nature and deep social footprint.”

According to him, throughout the years, the tourism industry has continuously demonstrated its resilience and capacity to serve as a channel for the redistribution of income and thereby contributing to a greater economic and social recovery.

“The sector has achieved this as a result of the adequate political support and the recognition governments continue to give to the industry players to ensure that they continue to play their roles in the socio-economic development of the country.”

“Furthermore, the industry plays a key role in leveraging efforts to preserve and promote natural and cultural heritage and has long been at the forefront of creating employment and livelihood, especially for the youth, women and the unemployed.”

He bemoaned that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit travel and tourism hard.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO), small and medium-sized enterprises (which make up around 80% of the tourism sector) are expected to be particularly impacted.

“This might affect thousands of livelihoods across the country, including vulnerable communities who rely on tourism as a vehicle to spur their development and economic inclusion.

None of us gathered here has a clear idea for now, how the world will return to the state in which it was before the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, hence, everybody is talking about a ‘new-normal’.”

“We do not yet know what form this will take but as we keep on adjusting and following the safety rules and protocols, we believe that the devastating effect on tourism, culture and travels will be minimised and the industry will regain its rightful place in the economy,” Mr. Osafo-Mafo said.

“All of these factors, ladies and gentlemen, make it even more imperative that the tourism sector is supported both at this time of the crisis and as we enter the recovery phase.”

“The Grant Scheme being launched today under the Ghana Tourism Development Project (GTDP) with funds from the International Development Agency (IDA) of the World Bank Group offers us exactly the opportunity and support we require to revitalize the sector and make an impact in the tourism and hospitality sectors.”

He added that “the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo since assumption of office in 2017 has supported Ghana’s tourism sector with funds for infrastructural development. The government securing support from the World Bank to improve tourism infrastructure is yet another demonstration of the government’s commitment to improving the tourism, arts and culture industry.”

“It is unfortunate that despite these investments, Ghana has not seen a corresponding rise in our tourism earnings or break into top 10 tourism destination in Africa.”

Africa has seen a rise in its tourism performance recording about 67 million tourist visits in 2018, making it the second-fastest growing region after Asia Pacific when it comes to tourism, he added.

“This was a growth of 7% over 2017.

However, despite this impressive growth in 2018, Africa’s share of the global tourism pie remains small. Only five per cent of international tourist arrivals were to African countries. In addition, Africa earned only one per cent of the $1.7 trillion earnings in the sector. This is unacceptable considering the numerous tourism destination centres dotted all over Africa and Ghana in particular.”

“This is the reason why government is supporting this project to improve on our tourism infrastructure to attract more visitors like we witnessed during the ‘Year of Return’ programme in 2019. I am informed that under the project, refurbishment works are currently ongoing and near completion at Tourist Receptive Facilities of the Ankasa Forest Reserve, Gwollu Slave Walls and Tomb of former President Dr. Hilla Liman, the Gushegu Smock Market, Akwamufie Museum, with preparations almost complete to start work on Bonwire, Axim and Kintampo facilities very soon.”

By Melvin Tarlue