Monday, October 1, 2007
Government injects ¢1.1bn into c’nity tourism
By: DAVID ADADEVOH
THE government last year released ¢1.1billion as part of efforts to promote tourism and create employment for the people at the community level.
The beneficiary communities included Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary in the Hohoe District of the Volta Region and Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Mr. Kofi Osei Ameyaw, Deputy Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, announced this at an exhibition to commemorate World Tourism day celebrations in Accra on Thursday.
This year’s World Tourism day had the theme “Tourism Opens Doors for Women”.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization set aside September 27 every year as World Tourism Day to create awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its socio-cultural, political and economic values.
Mr. Osei Ameyaw said the development of community-based tourism programmes and projects was an integral part of the Ministry’s aim at creating income opportunities for local communities who are vulnerable to poverty, especially during off farming seasons.
“It is also aimed at increasing awareness among both the locals and tourists of the need to conserve natural and cultural assets which provides alternative livelihoods for the local people”, he said.
He described the theme for the celebrations as very useful because the involvement of women in the tourism sector would further accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development goal of promoting gender equality, women empowerment and poverty reduction.
“Considering the immense business opportunities the sector provides for women it is time financial institutions, particularly commercial banks, meet the challenge of providing special credit schemes to support Small and Medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism sector, most of which are managed by our hard working women”, he said.
The Minister said extending financial assistance to the SMEs would go a long way in helping them to expand their scope of production and develop attractive tourists sites for the country.
He disclosed that the tourism sector last year generated 931 million dollars as revenue to government.
Mrs. Esther Obeng Dapaah, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, who delivered the Keynote address, stressed the need for players in the tourism industry to initiate interventions that would make tourism to truly open doors for women.
“Supporting women to become self-employed through tourism-related activities should be linked with micro credit programmes”, she said.
She said the development of the handicraft sector should form an important part of strategic planning for community participation in tourism, especially the participation of women.
US Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Pamela Bridgewater, in a speech read on her behalf, urged the government to build more infrastructures to attract more tourists into the country.
She said the tourism sector has the potential to be the number one foreign exchange earner for the country, if the sector is well developed.
The Ghanaian Times - Monday, October 1, 2007 Page: 26