Ministry of Tourism sets up Tourism Development Fund

The Ministry of Tourism is to improve facilities in the country’s hospitality industry to enable them to deliver quality services to their patrons. To this end, the Ministry has instituted a Tourism Development Fund under which one per cent levy is to be imposed on the cost payable by a patron of a tourism enterprise. Ms Akua Sena Dansua, the Sector Minister made this known at a sensitization workshop at Gomoa Ankamu in the Central region for stakeholders in the industry on the Tourism Law (Act 817). She said the country had not realized fully the true wealth-creation and poverty reduction potential of the sector, because the country was striving to make the necessary investments in the sector to derive the maximum benefits from it. The Minister said tourism was becoming increasingly competitive and its contribution to national development had become very critical. She said according to the Ghana Tourism Authority, tourism arrivals and receipts doubled between 2005 and 2010. Ms Dansua said instituting a Tourism Development Fund had become necessary as government budgets alone cannot cater for the significant improvements required in the sector for the country to increase its market share and become a leading tourism destination in Africa. “This has necessitated the establishment of various levies in the sector across the world to complement government budgets,” the Minister said. She said the Fund seeks to provide for the integral functions of the Authority, which include marketing and promotion, capacity building, market research and development of tourism infrastructure, development and promotion of their entrepreneurial activities. The rest are tourism export trade-oriented activities of institutions and tourism education and training. Ms Dansua said an evaluation and implementation committee set up after the Act was promulgated, recommended the re-instatement of tax holidays which were to be incorporated into the Internal Revenue Act 2000, Act 592. She said the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department had fixed July 24, 2012 as the effective date for collection of the levy, but due to the lack of education and publicity it had been shifted to September 1, 2012. Mrs Ama Benyiwa-Doe, Central Regional Minister in a speech read on her behalf said though the region had been regarded as the heart-beat of tourism in Ghana less efforts were being made to develop the tourist sites in the region. She said recreational and entertainment facilities that could help prolong the stay of visitors were virtually non-existent. That, the Regional Minister said, deprived the region of the potential benefits that could be derived from tourism. Mrs Benyiwa-Doe appealed to the stakeholders to make the sector a major tool for socio-economic development of the region. The workshop was organized to educate the stakeholders on the Tourism Law and Tourism Levy Regulations and the mode of collecting the levy.