The World Bank has approved a facility of US$ 40 million to support the Government’s continuous effort to develop the Creative Art, Leisure and Tourism industry.
The Facility, the first of its kind to be extended by the Bretton Wood institution to Ghana, has been structured to enable the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, with the relevant Ministries and agencies, to initiate long overdue changes in certain sectors.
The sectors include the Aviation and Immigration, whose activities have a direct bearing on the fortunes of the Tourism Industry.
These were announced in a press statement, signed by Mr. V. Otto Langmagne, the Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, on Monday.
The statement said the Bank, in a justification for the loan and in a Project Appraisal Document, noted that despite the Tourism sector’s assets and potential demand, it virtually lacked a public sector strategic intervention and resources.
This, it said, had collectively contributed to the sector’s low competitiveness.
“The Project Development Objective (PDO) is to improve the performance of tourism in targeted destinations in Ghana which will, in turn, trigger economic transformation through jobs, local enterprise and investment,” it said.
“All of these will depend on the number of tourists who will visit the country, the number of days they will spend, how much money they spend, and what they do in the destination,” the Bank, however, noted.
The statement said the Facility’s ultimate purpose, therefore, was to induce an increase in foreign exchange earnings, which was related to an increase in the volume of international tourist arrivals.
The Project has four main components, which include the strengthening Tourism Enabling Environment with US$ 15 million. This aims to address problems of training, skills development, aviation, entry visa policy, branding and marketing in the industry.
The Second Component, also allocated with US$ 15 million, involves the Development of tourism sites and Destinations. It seeks to diversify the leisure tourism offering, by identifying and upgrading the most prominent destination areas that have the most the tenacity to entice visitors from both domestic and international countries and support destination planning, access, safety and quality upgrades.
The Third Component, which is a Tourism Enterprise Support Programme, would attract five million US dollars. It would finance the cost of tourism enterprises, matching grants and business development service training, where qualified enterprises would be invited to submit proposals that would be evaluated for viability.
Component Four involves the Project Management, which would enable the Ministry to provide technical assistance for the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET). It would help to develop the requisite curriculum, standards, assessment and accreditation processes and also train teachers of COTVET, to deliver quality training on tourism.
The statement said the Ministry had estimated that, at least, 2,500 people needed to be trained annually to fill the gap of 10,500 receptionists, housekeeping and restaurant staff required to cope with the demand growth.
It said the opportunity given to develop their skills, would help the most disadvantaged workers to move beyond insecurity into more a stable, higher-paid employment.
The statement said the facility was to aid the Government to attract domestic and international air travel operators to Ghana, under the support to the Aviation Promotion component.
This is aimed at promoting competition within Ghana’s aviation market, to drive down the cost and availability of air travel to and within the country.
The statement said the most promising destination areas identified under the programme would be upgraded with the US$ 15 million for the development of tourism sites and destinations.
“The support will include signage, fencing, railing, last-mile water and electricity provision, sewerage, drainage, streets lights, toilets, solid waste management, jetties and walkways for primary public sites,” it explained.
It said the loan allocated for the Tourism Enterprise Support Programme, which was premised on the fact that SMEs formed the backbone of the national economy, but they often struggled with market knowledge, links, formalisation, technology and other skills.
“The component’s objective, therefore, is to provide tourism SMEs with the opportunity to improve their business planning, formalise their businesses and apply for matching grants to upgrade their products and services and will also target women-owned SMEs”.
The Sector Minister, Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, said: “This is the first time the Tourism, Arts and Culture sector has attracted IDA assistance because we are poised to put it to good use, bearing in mind that it is a facility payable by the Government of Ghana, even with the lowest interest rate.
She said they were very confident that the narrative of Ghana’s tourism delivery and positioning in the economic indices would be a different lifeline, which would create an enabling environment for improved service delivery, revamped tourist sites, an enhanced and vibrant culture hub which would portray Ghana as the preferred destination in West Africa.