President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Sunday launched “Destination Ghana”, a flagship tourism project to promote Ghana as a preferred leisure destination and to drive more receipts from the sector for national development.
The “Destination Ghana” project”, a set of innovative activities that would be rolled out in series, is aimed at attracting a million tourists from the United Kingdom, Europe, and the rest of the world to Ghana annually.
It aims to build on the success of Ghana’s landmark 2019 “Year of Return” campaign that brought the back diaspora to the country, to mark the 400th year of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to Jamestown, Virginia.
That event established Ghana on the global map as a key tourism destination.
At a ceremony in London, United Kingdom, President Akufo-Addo noted that with the slow but steady recovery being witnessed in the tourism sector, after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in nature-based adventure and leisure tourism had grown, offering new opportunities to visitors.
He said Ghana possessed “an abundance of these offerings, and that is what we are here to present to the world, using our historical connection with the United Kingdom as a launchpad.”
The President held the opinion that the tourism industry offered a great avenue to deepen Ghana-Britain relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Ghana, he pointed out, was not only gifted with a rich culture, but was also the best place for doing business in West Africa, and the safest and most stable country in the region.
“Indeed, she has been for several years the recipient of the largest foreign direct investments in West Africa…We can turn the tourism and hospitality industry into a major tool for the positive transformation of the Ghanaian economy, and into a win-win situation for investors,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo indicated that Ghana, over the last few years, in addition to the abundance of natural resources, had embarked on a product improvement plan, where several tourist sites in the country are currently undergoing site renovations.
These include the Aburi Botanical Gardens, modelled after the famous Kew Botanical Garden in London, the Yaa Asantewaa Memorial Museum, and the Kente Museum, both in Kumasi.
He also referred to the ongoing sector skills development process, under the Ghana CARES Obaatanpa Programme, the GH¢100 billion post-COVID economic recovery programme of the country.
The President revealed that this year, some $25 million would be expended to upgrade some iconic sites in Ghana, including the famous Elmina and Cape Coast Castles, the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, the Mole and Kakum Parks, and cultural Museums in Yendi in the Northern Region, Ejisu in the Ashanti Region, Akropong in the Eastern Region, and Ho in the Volta Region, under the Ghana Tourism Development Project, supported by the World Bank.
In addition to this, funds will be directly injected into supporting SMEs in the hospitality and beverage sector, with negotiations currently ongoing with the World Bank.
“This forty-million-dollar ($40 million) project is expected to position the tourism and hospitality sectors as key drivers of social and economic development. Some of the benefits that the project is expected to bring are enriched access to Ghana’s tourism market, better provision of tourism products and services, and the upgrading of skills in the labour force in the tourism, arts, and culture sector,” he added.
Ghana, the President said, needed the support of business partners the world over, and challenged the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and its agencies to ride on the back of the “Destination Ghana” project to help attract, by 2024, one million tourists annually from Britain and Europe.
“I have made my contribution by lifting, a week ago, virtually all the COVID-19 restrictions, including the opening of all Ghana’s borders, to enhance movements in and out of Ghana, whilst still maintaining the hygiene protocols, like the wearing of face masks at indoor gatherings.
“I want to invite you, here in London and Britain, Europe, and the rest of the world, to the Centre of the world, where longitude zero degrees crosses latitude zero degrees; where the bright sunshine enriches the quality of the skin and bodies of all; where music, dance and culture not only create fun but also excite the body, soul and mind for spiritual growth.
“Indeed, I welcome you to Ghana, the centre of the world, to enjoy our famed hospitality, and take advantage of our favourable investment climate,” the President said.