Nov. 29, GNA – Mr Abraham Tetteh, Tourism Fund Administrator, Ghana Tourism
Authority (GTA), has said that the tourism sector has been identified to have
the potential of solving the economic situation in the country.
He said if the sector is developed the industry could be used to generate income into the country.
Mr Tetteh made this observation in Accra on Friday during a tourism levy sensitization workshop for stakeholders organized by the GTA to enlighten members on the implementation of the tourism levy.
He said the workshop was also to inform stakeholders about some few transformations in the GTA to enable the agency execute its new mandate as an authority, as well as to enlighten stakeholders on the current state of the fund.
He said the fund is to stimulate accelerated development of the sector in order to reap the identified benefit of the tourism industry.
Mr Tetteh said the fund comprises of seed capital from government, one per cent tourism levy payable by patrons, donations, grants and money earned by the promotion of any project but currently the one per cent tourism levy was the main target.
He said the tourism levy became operationalized in October 2012 and its collection applies to every enterprise in the industry and the collection period is within one month.
Mr Tetteh said the fund is to be applied in marketing and promotion of tourism, capacity building and development of infrastructure, tourism education and training, and tourism trade-oriented activities for the development of the sector.
According to him, a framework for the disbursement of the fund to the priority areas of the sector has been carried out and would be effective soon.
He noted that enterprises certified to collect the tourism levy includes banqueting facilities, conferences, night clubs, theaters and all other tourist attractions, adding that enterprises can only commence business after registration.
He said “the certification is yet to be extended to the travel agencies, tour operators, car rentals, site guide operator’s hostels, high rest stops, home lodge, home stays among others”.
Mr Tetteh noted the Unibank, Universal Merchant Bank and the Ghana Commercial Bank are the approved banks for payments of the levy.
He said some challenges associated with the fund include irregular payment by the number of certified enterprises, delay payments of collected levies, no reconciliation of levy collection by tourism enterprises as against payments, units not charging the one per cent tourism levy across revenue streams.
He said in order to address these challenges, measures to recall outstanding levy payment from defaulters, demand notices have also been served to defaulting hotels in the region, as well as a software has also been developed to establish a reliable data base of all enterprises operating in the country.
“To tackle the current situation, a request has been made to the Registrar Generals Department to provide information on all registered tourism enterprises in the country, the scope of the levy payers would also be broadened to include all tourism enterprises stipulated in the schedule, and also a media plan has been prepared to promote wider publicity, communication and education to operators and patrons of tourism products”.
He said the fund has enormous potentials of generating money to advance the developmental agenda of the tourism industry and this requires a concerted effort to ensure that all establishments identified by the tourism act are registered and certified for the levy collection purpose.
Mr Sampson Donkor, Deputy Executive Director, Finance and Administration, GTA said the tourism levy collection since its introduction, has been able to cover over 95 percent of the accommodation and catering service in the industry, adding that the travel-trade was the next sector the levy would be introduced to.
He said the survival of the sector depends on the levy and as such it was important for the GTA to organize the workshop to render the state of the accounts to stakeholders as well as introduce to them the current challenges of the collection.
Mr Donkor said some stakeholders do not understand the tourism levy and as such are not collecting them effectively, while others are also collecting but not paying into the accounts, hence the need for a sensitization workshop.
He said the GTA is mandated to register and license all tourism enterprises and sites, including accommodation, catering facilities, night clubs, theaters, travel-trade enterprises, banqueting facilities, conference facilities, resorts and spa as well as all other tourist attractions.