President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed the Ghana Export-Import Bank (Ghana EXIM) to make available a GH¢10-million loan facility for players of the creative arts industry to finance their projects.
The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, who made this known in Accra yesterday, said the move by the President was to support players in that industry to earn sustainable livelihoods and improve their contribution to national development.
“Preparatory work has been done and consultants will be engaged to take over the administration of the fund, as per the requirements of the bank facility disbursement,” she said.
The minister was speaking when she took her turn at the meet-the-press series to highlight happenings within that sector.
She was flanked by the Deputy Minister of the sector, Dr Ziblim Iddi, and the heads of the agencies under the ministry.
Her interaction with journalists at the event was on a wide range of issues within the tourism sector, topical among which were the Year of Return (YoR), the Marine Drive Project and reforms in the tourism, arts and culture industry.
The minister said the World Bank had also approved a $40-million loan over a period of five years to support the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and its agencies.
She said the facility was meant to improve the performance of leisure tourism in targeted destinations as part of the Ghana Tourism, Arts and Culture Sector Improvement Project.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi also said the ministry was in the process of establishing a Heritage and Cultural Development Fund (HCDF) to revamp infrastructure in that industry.
She explained that part of the fund would be dedicated to the rehabilitation of heritage sites, including the forts and castles, as well as Ashanti traditional buildings.
“A draft bill for the establishment of this fund is being developed for the consideration of the Cabinet,” Mrs Oteng-Gyasi added.
The minister further said a national tourism and hospitality training policy had been developed and submitted to the Cabinet for approval.
According to her, the policy was meant to ensure quality service standards in the tourism industry and increase tourist satisfaction and spending.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi, said the tourism and hospitality sector recorded an 18 per cent growth in international arrivals from the Americas, Britain, the Caribbean and other key countries, while total airport arrivals increased by 45 per cent over the 2018 performance.
“From a baseline of 914,000 in 2016, international arrivals rose to 956,000 in 2018, and it is projected that the number of tourist arrivals will increase to 1.1 million by the close of 2019.
“Tourism receipts increased from $1.8 billion in 2017 to $2.58 billion in 2018.
“Besides, the estimated spending per tourist has seen a significant increase from $1,862 in 2017 to the current figure of $2,589 per tourist,” she added.
The minister attributed the growth this year to the YoR initiative, adding that it had raked in some $1.9 billion.
She said in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and the Ministry of the Interior, visa on arrival fee was reduced from $150 to $75, ‘enabling a significant number of people to visit the country’.
“Over 500 visas on arrival will be processed by the end of the Year of Return,” the minister said.
On the marine drive project, Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said: “Thirty-six out of the 53 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and businesses operating within the Marine Drive Tourism Investment Project enclave have been relocated to Ghana House, while clearing of the site is 70 per cent complete.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority , Mr Kwasi Agyeman, said GH¢72 million had so far accrued to the Tourism Development Fund (TDF) since it came into force in 2012.
He made this known when Mrs Oteng-Gyasi referred a question posed to her by the Daily Graphic on the current status of the TDF.