18 honoured at 2020 National Tourism Awards in Accra

The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture over the weekend held its 2020 National Tourism Awards to recognise excellence in the tourism sector.

The awards’ ceremony, which was an honorary and the 16th edition, was under the theme: ‘Stronger Partnership for Inclusive Tourism Growth’.

It aimed to reward impactful contribution to the tourism sector, encourage stronger rebound of tourism in Ghana and to build relationship among the Authority and its stakeholders who have distinguished themselves to advance the course of the industry, especially in the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In all, a total of 18 honorary awards were presented to deserving tourism establishments and personalities which included the supporting traditional ruler of the year, outstanding corporate stakeholder of the year, most active tourism trade association of the year, outstanding personality in the fight against COVID-19, tourism-oriented media personality, among others.

Speaking at the event in Accra, the Deputy Sector Minister, Mr Okraku Mantey, said the Covid-19 pandemic had evidently affected the tourism sector immensely, but with the interventions of the government, such as the opening of boarders, the world Bank Grant to Small and Medium Enterprises, the Ghana Cares Obaatanpa initiative, among other things, had geared the tourism sector to bounce back.

He expressed government’s commitment to supporting the tourism industry and urged the industry players to strive harder to promote the sector.

“This is our way of showing you all that we appreciate your tireless efforts and your support towards the tourism industry to ensure that our vision of making Ghana the preferred tourism destination comes to fruition,” he added.

The Chief Executive Officer of GTA, Mr Akwasi Agyemang, commended all the award winners and the tourism players for their support and dedication during the pandemic period.

“The past year had been a challenging time for all of us. Border restrictions, increased COVID-19 protocols and an uncertain business environment have combined to negatively impact us,” he said.

Mr Agyemang stated that despite the challenges, the tourism business had demonstrated extraordinary passion and innovation, adding  “We have seen a lot of business adaptation in the sector that has kept a lot of our businesses afloat”.

He reiterated that the sector recorded international arrivals of 355,000 last year and in the first nine months this year, it recorded 411,000 which showed a significant improvement in their numbers.

For domestic tourism, Mr Agyemang said it recorded 290,000 for the entire year of 2020 and 350,000 as at September this year.

“The numbers are looking up but we believe we are not out of the roots yet,” he added.

He expressed GTA’s commitment to working with the private sector to build a resilient tourism sector.

“GTA believes in the power of partnerships and will continue to support our private sector. We look forward to many more engagements under the newly constituted steering committee of the public private partnership forum (PPPF) so that we can build a road map of total recovery for our sector,” Mr Agyemang said.

The chairperson for the occasion, Nana Ama Serwaa Bonsu, commended the effort of the tourism industry players for their contributions towards the sustainability of the sector in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She urged them to always strive for excellence in their endeavours and entreated that the public sector work strongly with the private sector to drive inclusive growth.

Among some of the awardees were the Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong, who received the ‘Outstanding Personality in the fight against COVID-19’, Mr Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey, popularly known as Abeiku Santana of Okay FM, was honoured the ‘Tourism Orientated Media Personality’ while  the Chief of Akyem Abuakwa, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II, was presented with the ‘Supportive Traditional Ruler’ award.

Other distinguished personalities and corporate institutions were also recognised for their respective roles in developing the tourism sector.

They all received prizes ranging from plaques, citations to certificates of honour.

BY VIVIAN ARTHUR AND CECILIA LAGBA

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