Cabinet has given approval to the Tourism Bill which, when operational, will give a major boost to the development of the sector to enable it play a more meaningful role in the national economy.
When passed by Parliament it will be the first comprehensive law on tourism.
The Bill aims at introducing drastic innovations in to the tourism industry, as well as to ensure a proper management of the industry towards making it a major revenue earner and source of jobs for the nation.
It is to establish a National Tourism Authority to properly regulate the industry which is currently fraught with challenges.
The Authority, according to the Bill, will provide better co-ordination among the partner agencies in the sector, and lead the development of infrastructure to make the industry more competitive and attractive.
Currently, the policy implementing agency in the tourism the structure is the Ghana Tourist Board which provides coordination and regulation, as well as marketing, research, registration and licensing.
In addition, there is also the Ghana Tourist Development Company, an autonomous quasi-public entity which is the tourism development and investment wing of the sector Ministry.
But, according to the Bill, this structure is incompatible with modern tourism requirements and international practice.
It is to address present weaknesses in the collaboration among Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and private sector organisations towards achieving sustainable growth of the industry.
As a supervisory body, the Authority will support Regional Tourism Boards and District Tourism Committees that would be set up to effectively develop and manage tourism sites across the regions, and properly regulate tourism enterprises.
The Bill also intends to establish a Tourism Development Fund to provide adequate funding for the many tourism projects that would be initiated across the country.
With Cabinet’s approval, the Bill will soon be laid before Parliament for approval.
Mrs. Zita Okaikoi, Minister of Tourism, who was appreciative of Cabinet’s approval, was optimistic that Parliament would also give its nod in good time for the implementation process to commence.
The anticipated passage of the Bill by Parliament, she said “will provide a major leap for the tourism sector.”
She told the Times yesterday that the Bill is part of initiatives to push up tourism from being the fourth major foreign exchange earner to the first foreign exchange earner for the country.
In addition, she said a tourism law was necessary since it would help the government to achieve development targets in the industry.
The Bill is expected to be laid before Parliament when the House resumes from recess in October.