By: Anthony Sedzro
Practitioners in the Ghanaian tourism sector are operating under the burden of 21 different taxes and fees. These taxes and fees, which include the tourism development levy, Valued Added Tax (VAT), corporate tax, airport taxes, electricity tariffs, taxes on international air fares, TV licence fees, DStv fees, and so on, combine to make Ghana a very expensive destination for tourists.
Akwasi Agyemang, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) made this revelation in a Powerpoint presentation at an ‘Akwaaba’ Forum on Tourism on 22nd June at the Alisa Hotel, Accra as part of the Citi Business Festival. The Festival’s a month-long of activities is the initiative of Accra based Citi FM.
Akwasi Agyemang said these many taxes pose a big challenge to the development of the sector.
Speaking on the issue of taxes, Kushal Dutta, Managing Director, Jumia Travel West Africa, a travel and leisure company, who was a panellist, said feedback from his clients indicate that the cost of airline tickets and hotel accommodation in Ghana is very expensive so prospective tourists prefer to visit East Africa where it is the same cost but with better tourism attractions.
Kushal Dutta revealed that the average cost of a hotel room in Ghana is US$86 compared to US$42 in Nigeria (prices are lower in Nigeria due to keen competition and many business travellers) and equally lower in Kenya, one of highest tourism destinations in Africa. He said the packages and services a tourist will enjoy by booking for a four-star hotel in South Africa, for example, that tourist will pay the same cost in Ghana but will get only a two-star hotel accommodation. This high pricing regime deters potential tourists and for those who come to Ghana, they hardly make return visits, Dutta lamented.
Dutta, whose Jumia Travel website lists and provides information on more than 30,000 African hotels and attracts 15 million visitors monthly, said their tourist customers rated Ghanaians as very friendly but not efficient. He adviced GTA) to create simple videos of locations and things to do in Ghana.
When visitors enter a hotel and wait to book a room, they spend about 10 minutes at the reception and the 2-minutes video of tourist attractions in Ghana that runs at the reception can help these visitors to look for information on these attractions and visit.
Critical next steps
Touching on the challenges facing the sector, Akwasi Agyemang of GTA said the authority will introduce some standardisation that would see the GTA and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) undertaking joint inspections of tourism facilities in the country.
The CEO said GTA will introduce a tourism charter by July and part of it will see the creation of a single tourism portal through which hotel bookings, tourist visits, procurements, seminars and others will go through the portal.
Akwasi Agyemang also told participants that a new tourism campaign christened ‘See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana, and Feel Ghana’ will be launched on June 30.
Professor Kwaku Boakye, lecturer, Department of Tourism and Hospitality at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), called for a collaboration between academia, government and tourism practitioners to boost tourism as this collaborative effort is what pertains in Spain, one of the most visited country’s in the world. He said the Department of Tourism and Hospitality at UCC is one of the few in West Africa that offers Masters Degree in Tourism Management.
Kofi Akpabli, a celebrated travel writer, pointed out that many tourist attractions in Ghana and hotel facilities do not have directional signs, making them difficult to locate. Additionally, some tourist hotspots offered very memorable experiences but road access to those places were bad.
The well-attended event also had in attendance the reigning Miss Tourism Ghana beauty winner; Samuel Atta-Mensah, the CEO of Citi FM; Oheneba Akua Manfo, Deputy CEO of GTA; tourism practitioners, traditional leaders and others.