Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, has said tourism is positioned as one of the strategic pillars of the transformation agenda of the government.
She said a lot of government investments had gone into the tourism sector including; investing in infrastructure, promotion of the creative arts and the development and tourist sites across the country.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi was addressing a durbar of Chiefs and people of Tafi Atome in the Afadzato South District, where she commissioned upgraded facilities of the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary and Cultural Village.
She said the government recognised the role of tourism, arts and culture in national development and its unique potential for creating jobs, providing incomes and lifting communities out of poverty.
“We have initiated a trail blazing project such as the Year of Return, Beyond the Return, see, eat, wear and feel Ghana domestic tourism campaign and have pushed and positioned Ghana as a competitive meeting incentives and events, conference and exhibition destination through the hosting of major events.”
The Tourism Minister said attractions were crucial to the operation of tourism in any area since they provided the primary pole that drew visitors to a destination.
She said the passage of Tourist sites Regulation offered the Tourism Authority desire to upgrade sites to enhance the overall quality of visitor experience to ensure repeated visitorship.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said under the law, all tourist sites must be registered and licensed by the GTA after satisfying the minimum requirement of governance structures which would transform the state of tourist sites and attractions and ensure confidence of the international community to visit sites.
The project, funded by the Tourism Development Fund and undertaken by A&B Construction Ghana Limited, has a receptive facility, pavilions, landscaping, pavements, washrooms, and car park and wire mesh and bamboo fence walls.
Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, Volta Regional Minister, noted that the projects were aimed at harnessing the tourism and business potential of the District to boost the local economy and to create jobs for the young people.
He said the initiative was a great one since tourism was a pillar in the Ghanaian economy and was expected to contribute to the economic transformation and growth through tax, revenue and stimulation of the local economy.
He said the Region was regarded as the hub of tourism in Ghana as it had everything that other regions did not have.
“Indeed, tourism in the Volta region has grown in all sectors especially in the hotel and restaurants sub-sector and some improvements in the quality delivery. The participation of local communities in the conservation of our natural resources for ecotourism has also been tremendous.”
He said the government was committed to the growth and development of tourism and therefore needed the support of a strong private sector to make it possible.
The Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary covers an area of 387sq kilometres and serves as a home for a total of 300 True Mona and Patas monkeys that inhabited the forests over 600 years and many birds and butterfly species.
Mr Akwasi Agyeman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ghana Tourism Authority, said they were upgrading lots of tourist sites under the Ghana Tourism Development Project, funded by the World Bank or the Tourism Development Fund initiative.
“Further upgrades are planned in the coming months as we refocus attention on Domestic Tourism promotion. The GTA had a mandate to market and promote tourism in Ghana.”
He said since the coronavirus pandemic struck, the Authority had strategized in the “new normal” to achieve market success and the focus was on developing domestic market potential through product improvement and market promotion.
Mr James Etornam Flolu, Afadzato South District Chief Executive (DCE), said the project came in, when the District and its people had identified tourism as “the new gold for our District.”
He said the District with 14 tourist sites deemed it fit to invest in tourism to enhance the economic potential and other sites to benefit from similar development projects and upgrades.
“We started a project recently called explore Afadzato South, which is meant to promote, design and project all tourist sites in the District” adding that his mandate was to enhance the economic potential of the District and to make sure government’s agenda was equally championed.
He urged the people of Tafi Atome and Afadzato South to vote for the New Patriotic Party (NPP)in the December polls to invest in tourism and development.
Some of the tourist sites in the District include; Mountain Afadza and its enclave, Snake zoo and Agbom waterfalls among others.