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Tourism development plan to take effect next year   
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President John Evans Atta Mills, on Sunday observed that the implementation of a four-year tourism sector medium term development plan would take off next year.

In a speech read on his behalf, at the opening of the think tank session of the on-going World Tourism Day celebration, he said: “The tourism sector medium term development plan will be implemented between 2010 and 2013 to boost both domestic and foreign tourism in the country.”

The World Tourism Day; is a UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) event, hosted for the first time by Ghana, on the theme: “Tourism, Celebrating Diversity”.

The President said government was currently putting together consultants to assist in the smooth implementation of the plan in a manner that would ensure that its set targets were achieved more rapidly and in a sustainable fashion.

“The development will set the tone for huge government investments into the development of the tourism sector,” he said.

Currently tourism is the fourth foreign exchange earner for Ghana, raking in more than $1.4 million last year and contributing 6.2 per cent GDP.

But for decades the sector had remained the least beneficiary of government’s annual budget allocation and having no specific development plan.

Both local and international tourism experts have said that Ghana stood a great advantage of being the best tourism destination in Africa because of its unique slave forts and history, but inadequate infrastructure and lack of aggressive marketing of tourism potentials were impediments to the optimisation of the sector.

President Atta Mills expressed the believe that the four- year development plan would make tourism leap-frog other sectors and make the country reap the full benefits of the potentials thereof.

He said the plan would focus on providing the necessary infrastructure and promotional programmes that would make Ghana take full advantage of its hospitality, cultural diversity, natural environment and political stability among other things.

“Tourism is a multi-sectoral industry, which requires growth in such sectors as roads and transport, environment, accommodation, entertainment, sports, visual arts and many more.

“It will also provide jobs in photography, manufacturing, food, retailing and many other sectors,” he said.

President Mills therefore called on local and foreign journalists attending the event to exchange ideas on how to effectively promote the tourism potentials of the country to both the local and international markets.

He noted that tourism thrived on diversity, adding that the cultural and bio diversity in Ghana was vast, but the people lived in unity and peace.

Mr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO lauded Ghana as a model nation that “vibrates in the heart of Africa”.

He said Africa was the only continent that had proved resilient to globalisation and had maintained its diversity in the midst of a globalising world.

“The world is changing for the better and African countries can only carve a niche for themselves through their unique diversities,” he said.

Mr. Rifai urged African countries to maintain their diversity, stressing that thrived on diversity as people travelled because they wanted to see and experience something different from what they were used to.

He noted that currently global tourism receipt was in excess of $1.3 trillion a year, adding that annually 922 million people travelled outside their home country and four and half times of that was within their home countries.

“Clearly, that is a sign that globalisation and diversity are two sides of the same coin, because diversity is an attraction to travel and the more people travel the more the world globalises,” he said.

Mrs. Juliana Azumah Mensah, Minister of Tourism said in Ghana tourism employed 12 per cent of the workforce and was the fastest growing sector with huge potentials of poverty reduction and wealth creation for the people.

Participants at the think tank section included travel writers, journalists, sector policy makers; both from Ghana and elsewhere, non-governmental organisations, private tour operators and other industry players as well as students.

The areas of discussion include linkages between tourism and culture, tourism and environment, as well as tourism and other sectors of the economy.


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