Accra,Stakeholders at the Citi FM Akwaaba Forum, have called for the establishment of a high-level co-ordination committee to drive tourism activities and investments in the country.
According to Professor Kwaku Boakye, Head of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), a high level committee under Cabinet with ministerial representatives of relevant stakeholders in tourism, would help to synthesise tourism-related policy and actions.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the Akwaaba Forum, one of the fora under the Citi Business Festival, Prof Boakye said previous attempts at co-ordination between the various agencies with responsibilities to the tourism sector had not worked because the agencies sent representatives without decision- making power.
I think it’s time we thought of synthesising the policy framework at a level higher than just individual ministries.
Some of us have started to push for the creation of what we call a Tourism Coordinating Committee, which will be a sub-committee of Cabinet, he stated.
He said such a committee, which exists in other countries where tourism thrived, would ensure that issues affecting tourism, such as development of road infrastructure in tourism destinations, were prioritised.
He said most of the challenges that the tourism sector faced were from the political economy thus the need for a high level group with political clearance that could push the sector.
He said decisions taken at that level would be hard to repudiate by any individual ministry.
He also expressed the need for academia, industry and policy makers to engage each other in order to address the challenges in the industry.
Mr Akwasi Agyeman, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) said the call for the committee was feasible and would help to boost the sector, especially when tackled at the ministerial level.
We are sending an aid memoir to our ministry, that these are the issues that came out of this meeting and we believe that this should be at the cabinet level, he said.
He said the call would augment the Authority’s efforts to set up an inter-agency inspection regime to address the problem of operators having to go through several inspections by different agencies at different times.
He said setting up the committee should not be a problem as government sets up interagency committees all the time.
Mr Agyeman, who was also part of the panel, in his opening remarks, noted that tourism in Ghana was not doing very well compared to other countries in Africa although there had been some improvements in the sector.
He said among the challenges the sector faced was the high taxes and fees imposed on operators in the industry, especially in the hospitality sector, which he said was too burdensome, as well as a multiplicity of regulations and inspections.
He noted that inter-agency inspections calendar, which the GTA was negotiating for, would solve the problem of a multiple inspections.
He outlined other initiatives that the Authority was undertaking to address some of the issues in the industry.
These include automation of some its operations, enhancing capacity of agents through training, and the development of a service charter to ensure efficiency in the work of agents and operators in the sector.
The GTA will also create a tourism hot-line to allow for feedback from tourists, which should be ready by end of August.
Some participants at the forum also supported the call for a high level Committee on tourism, saying it will help spur development in the sector.
Source: Ghana News Agency