General News of Sunday, 16 September 2018
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has performed the ceremony to mark the official start of construction works on the Elmina Heritage Bay Tourism Project.
The project is designed to improve the immediate surroundings of the Elmina Castle to enhance visitor experience.
It comes with a reception facility, a reverential garden, improved parking space, event grounds and waterfront seats.
Busts of iconic Ghanaians, Africans and African-Americans together with arts and craft shops would also be erected.
It forms part of government’s agenda of improving tourism assets, especially forts and castles to increase revenue.
Mr Akufo-Addo said tourism had a “huge potential” for job creation in the country and expressed his eagerness to see an increase in jobs in the sector beyond the current 307,000 direct and 682,100 indirect jobs.
He said he was confident that the project, when completed would attract more tourists.
The tourism sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) currently, stands at three per cent.
President Akufo-Addo said United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) heritage status would be the yardstick of the project, which would focus on environmental preservation, sustainable tourism development and community participation to create an enhanced visitor experience.
He called for effective collaboration among all stakeholders, to make sure that any residual issues were resolved for the project to become a benchmark for tourism development around the various forts and castles.
Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, announced that next year would mark 400 years of the first documented enslaved African who arrived in James Town, Virginia.
Her Ministry together with its implementing agencies were therefore working to invite Ghanaians in the Diaspora to be part of the event.
She said the project would harness tourism as a tool for job creation, support the Elmina community and bring down poverty.
Nana Kodwo Conduah VI, Omanhene of Edina Traditional Area, hailed government for the project and called for all to unite their efforts to tackle sanitation problems, particularly along the coastline.
He said the filth that had engulfed most of the country’s tourism sites was unhelpful to tourism development.
Nana Conduah commended President Akufo-Addo for suspending the implementation of the ban on fishing that was supposed to have come into effect, last month.
He asked that the government put in place measures to tackle activities of foreign trawlers and deal with the issue of illegal transhipment on the sea.