Dr Awal’s exit as tourism minister surprising – GHA

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President Akufo-Addo’s decision to replace Dr Mohammed Awal as the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) has come as a surprise to the Ghana Hotels Association (GHA).

Dr Awal, according to the Association, acquitted himself creditably as Minister for the sector in the three years he served when he took over from Barbara Oteng Gyasi in February 2021.

Speaking in an interview with Ghana News Agency (GNA), Dr Edward Ackah-Nyamike Jnr., President GHA, said beyond political reasons, he would have loved to know the President’s reason for replacing Dr Awal when the latter did his best for the sector.

Dr Ackah-Nyamike said Dr Awal managed to rescue and revive the $40 million World Bank-funded Ghana Tourism Development Project (GTDP) which was almost lost at the point of his appointment in 2021.

He said Dr Awal did not only secure part of the 40 million dollars for disbursement as grants to players in the tourism and hospitality sector in the wake of COV.ID-19 but also revived the Public Private Partnership Forum (PPPF) as provided in the Tourism Act 817 by forming and inaugurating the PPPF Steering Committee.

He added that PPPF had been operational since its revival over two years ago despite some challenges.

The President of GHA also credited Dr Awal for the renovation and refurbishment of the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and other tourism attraction sites to their status under the GTDP.

“During his tenure, important events like the launch of the promotion of domestic tourism, the Presidential Summit on Tourism, and the Tourism Investment Summit were all organized for the first time.

Dr Awal joined the Ministry after the ‘Year of Return’ but continued to pursue the ‘’Beyond the Return’ project with its attendant benefits.”

Dr Ackah-Nyamike described the outgoing Tourism Minister as result-oriented as he supervised the sustained increase in international tourist arrivals from ground zero in March 2020 to date and nearing pre-pandemic performance.

“Dr Awal, by his marketing background, has brought appreciable publicity to tourism and hospitality where a lot of domestic and international interest has been generated in the sector.

Dr Awal gave an appreciable listening ear to stakeholders in the industry, including the Ghana Hotels Association. Through his breakfast meetings, attendance at programs (including the national executive council meeting of GHA), and readiness to intervene in issues such as GHA’s exit from the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF). He displayed empathy for the challenges facing players in the industry,” he noted.

He, however, recalled that Dr Awal was almost done with completing the National Tourism Policy which had been on the drawing board for quite some time.

On some major challenges, he said Dr Awal during his tenure as Minister was unable to bring the needed transparency and accountability to the disbursement of the TDF as well as getting the funds to support tourism trade associations with annual allocations.

He also said that Dr Awal did not give attention to the GHA’s proposal for hotels to be mandatory members of the Hotels Association and his inability to resolve the Copyright issues that had bedeviled the industry and resulted in the GHA taking copyright management organizations to court.

“He could not also help to effectively address the high taxes and levies bedeviling the industry,” he added.

Commenting on his expectations, he said Andrew Egyapa Mercer as the new sector Minister, had a short period to perform so he did not expect much from him but advised that the new minister engaged all stakeholders in the industry at the start of work.

He further urged the new minister to peruse the handing over notes given to him with an open mind and quest to consolidate the achievements of his predecessor.

Dr. Ackah-Nyamike charged him to focus on the GTDP, taxes and levies, the National Tourism Policy, the National Training Policy on Tourism, mandatory membership of Hotels Associations by hotels, and reducing utility tariffs for the industry.

Again, he urged the new minister to ensure transparency and accountability of the TDF, ensure roads leading to major tourist sites were constructed, pursue the E-Visa agenda, and ensure that the PPPF performs effectively in line with its mandate.

“If the new minister can address these issues together with issues from the arts and culture legs of the ministry, he will be able to leave a mark in his almost 10 months anticipated stay in office,” he stated.




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