The Destination Ghana London event is the first in a series of activities of the ‘Destination Ghana’ project, which has, at its core, the objective of inviting and welcoming the rest of the world to visit Ghana.
Building on the successes of the Year of Return, and with the slow but steady recovery being witnessed in the tourism sector, after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, President Akufo-Addo noted that interest in nature-based adventure and leisure tourism has grown, offering new opportunities to visitors.
“Ghana has 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 said.
He was of the belief that the tourism industry offers a great avenue to deepen Ghana-Britain relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries, adding that “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”.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “Ghana is not only gifted with a rich culture, but is also the best place for doing business in West Africa, as well as the safest and most stable country in the region, with a governance system that rests on the separation of powers, with an independent Judiciary promoting accountability in public life, and that respects the rule of law, human rights and the principles of democratic accountability. Indeed, she has been for several years the recipient of the largest foreign direct investments in West Africa.”
To this end, President Akufo-Addo indicated that Ghana, over the last few years, in addition to the abundance of natural resources, has embarked on a product improvement plan, where several tourist sites in the country are currently undergoing site renovations.
These, he said, 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.
“Further, an aggressive sector skills development process, under Ghana CARES Obaatanpa Programme, the GH¢100 billion post-COVID economic recovery programme of the country, is currently ongoing, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and its implementing agency, the Ghana Tourism Authority,” he added.
This year alone, President Akufo-Addo revealed that some $25 million would be expended to upgrade some of our iconic sites, 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, the President noted that funds will be directly injected into supporting SMEs in the hospitality and beverage sector, with negotiations currently ongoing with the World Bank.
“This $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, needs 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,” he added.
“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 added.