Mr Amidu Chinnia Issahaku, the Acting Upper West Regional Minister, has called on tourism industry players to eliminate prostitution and other social vices hampering the promotion of tourism in the country.
He also called on industry players to review negative cultural practices that affect Ghanaian values.
Mr Issahaku said this in a speech read on his behalf by the Wa Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Issahaku Tahiru Moomin during the Upper West Regional Tourism Awards last Saturday night.
It was organized by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) in Wa under the theme: “Promoting Responsible Tourism”.
Many tourists are said to be attracted to Ghana because of its rich biodiversity, cultural heritage and historic sites.
“The various tourist attraction areas tell our story as a people. It is important that we protect and conserve our biodiversity and our rich cultural heritage”, he said.
He said the tourism industry could be a game changer in the fight against poverty in the Region.
Apart from the economic benefits that accrue to tourism, he said, sustainable tourism could bring about unintended benefits such as respect between the tourist and host communities that would help build local pride and confidence in beneficiary communities.
Unfortunately, Mr Moomin said, many of the tourists’ sites are undeveloped and could not attract tourists, adding: “the existing ones are under threat by human activities.”
“For instance, activities of chain saw operators along the habitat of the hippopotamus in Wa West District are driving the animals further away”, he said.
More needed is to be done to promote the sites, he said, adding that government cannot do it alone and the collaboration of all stakeholders is needed.
The various service providers in the industry have a role to play in the promotion of sustainable tourism, Mr Moomin said, noting it is important for them to be trained to provide quality services that meet the taste of customers.
“While seeking prosperity, service providers should be concerned about their corporate image, the relationship with staff and the impact of their operations in the global environment and immediate surroundings”, he said.
He urged the tourism regulatory authority not to compromise its role but work closely with security services to prevent criminals from taking refuge in hotels and guest houses.
He assured industry players that the Regional Coordinating Council would work closely with the assemblies to support tourism promotion in the Region.