The Upper East Regional Office of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has celebrated the World Tourism Day with a call on indigenes to patronise tourists’ sites to boost local tourism.
Mr Henry Yeleduor, the Upper East Regional Manager of the GTA, made the call when he addressed the media at the Chief Crocodile Pond at Paga in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Region and encouraged the people to take interest in local tourist sites.
“As part of the programmes set out to celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day, we have what we call Visit and See Ghana, which is intended to encourage people to visit the local sites within Ghana,” he said.
This year’s celebration was on the theme: “Tourism and Jobs, a Better Future for All.”
As part of activities to commemorate the Day, Mr Yeleduor led officials of the GTA, the Ghana Hotels Association, and Traditional Caterers Association, Lecturers and students from the Hospitality Department of the Bolgatanga Polytechnic, among others, to the Paga and Zenga Crocodile Ponds in the Kassena-Nankana West District.
He said the World Tourism Day is celebrated globally on September 27, every year, to recognize the achievements of tourism to the economy.
A downpour in the early hours of the day prevented an intended clean-up exercise as part of the celebration, as tourism strived on a clean environment.
Mr Yeleduor advised the Hospitality students to take their course seriously to enable them to take advantage of the several job opportunities in the industry.
He said the Tourism sector was the highest direct and indirect employer; adding; “Our records show that tourism is still the fourth exchange earner in terms of contribution to the national economy.”
“As a Region, we have also witnessed increases in terms of the number of hotels that are growing in the area, growth in terms of drinking bars, growth in restaurants and chop bars. These facilities offer employment to the general public.”
Mr Yeledour indicated that the Ministry of Tourism, through the Ghana Tourism Development Authority, was to develop some major tourist sites in the Region including the Zenga Crocodile Pond.
Mr Ambrose Kasser Tee, the Regional Chairman of the GHA, said the sector was challenged with heavy taxes and levies and called on the government to reduce the taxes to enable them to stay in business.
“As at now, we pay over 10 different types of levies and taxes as hoteliers, so it discourages some people from continuing to operate.”
Mr Issahaku Mahama Pagape, a Tour Guide at the Chief Crocodile Pond, said in spite of the small nature of the pond, it housed about 200 crocodiles, which were not harmful.
“Children in this community can go into the pond, swim and catch fishes, and they will not cause any harm to them. We have never recorded any incidence of an attack on anyone.”