Business News of Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Government would begin the implementation of the Tourism Development Levy from October this year, Madam Akua Sena Dansua, Minister of Tourism has announced.
The levy is an Act of Parliament that compels private tourism sector operators in the country to pay monthly tax to the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) for tourism development.
The Sector Minister announced this in a speech read on her behalf at a Sensitisation Workshop on the Tourism Authority Act 817 at Abesim, near Sunyani.
The workshop jointly organised by the Sector Ministry and Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) was attended by caterers, chop bar and restaurant operators in Brong Ahafo Region.
Madam Dansua warned that any tourism operator who refused to comply with the Act was liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 500 penalty units.
She said the Ministry and GTA recognised that the tourism levy was not a panacea to all challenges facing the sector but would however assist in developing the sector and advised operators in the industry to team up to ensure that the levy worked for their mutual benefit.
She said Ghana ranked 108th in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index in 2011 in the area of tourism development, and placed 10th in Africa.
The Sector Minister explained that the global tourism market was increasingly expanding and it was imperative that any country wishing to compete in the market must scale up in terms of legislation, policies, infrastructure and quality of service.
Madam Dansua emphasised that the critical role of tourism in national development in terms of jobs and wealth creation towards achieving the government’s Better Ghana agenda could not be underestimated.
She said available statistics from the GTA showed that tourism arrivals and receipts doubled between 2005-2010, as it grew at double digit figures yearly within the period.
Madam Dansua said on the supply side, the number of hotels increased by 34 per cent within the same period while average room size per hotel increased from 14 to almost 16.
“The increase in the average room size over the past five years is the result of a number of international hotel chains entering the market such as the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Holiday Inn, Best western and Fiesta Royale hotels,” she added.
Madam Dansua said the true wealth creation and poverty reduction potential of the sector was yet to be achieved as Ghana was yet to make maximum benefits thereof.
She said this required substantial sums of money which the government budget alone could not support and had however necessitated the establishment of various levies in the sector.
Madam Dansua said significant improvements were required for the country to increase its market share and to become a leading tourism destination in Africa.
In a speech read on his behalf, Mr, Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister said the tourism industry had been a major contributor to foreign exchange earnings for the nation and deserved prime attention by all stakeholders.
He said the Region abounds in tourist attraction sites which when properly developed could facilitate accelerated national development.
Mr. Nyamekye-Marfo advised operators in the industry to strive for excellence to boost eco-tourism.
Mr. Sampson Donkor, Deputy Chief Executive, General Services, GTA and Prince Boakye-Boateng, Director, Public Relations, Ministry of Tourism took the participants through the Tourism (Levy) Regulations and the Tourism Act, 2011.