Lucky Onoriode George, the Editor of African Travel Times Magazine in Nigeria has called on African Governments to reduce taxes imposed on the operations of the Travel and Tourism Industry to revive the industry.
He said the huge taxes paid by the industry players have made travelling across Africa, especially West Africa very expensive and thereby discouraging tourists and investors from visiting the continent.
Mr George made these observations during the African Travel Times Awards 2018, held in Accra.
The event is to identify excellence among the travel and tourism industry and encourage actors to be more effective and efficient in the execution of their duties.
The Award Categories included Most Trusted Airline, Most Recognisable Airline, Most Formidable Airline, Most Distinguished Personality Award, Conference Hotel of the Year, Ghana Airport Hotel of the Year, and Best Hotel Management of the Year.
Other Awards were Most Active Head of National Tourism in West Africa won by Mr Akwasi Agyeman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority.
The Most Active Tourism Minister Award, West Africa won by Mrs Catherine Afeku, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
He said that it was, therefore important for governments to ensure that there was free movement without harassment and extortion among nations and to promote trade and socio-economic development.
George noted that even though, the hospitality industry had done very well across the continent, their operations were not uniformed, adding that, it was the reason why a three Star Hotel in one African country was a Two Star Hotel in another African country, even when a common uniform Hotel grading and classification was agreed on.
He said the awardees were selected by experts in the industry, who have had experience in managing all grades of the hotel industry.
“People travel not just to sleep in classy hotels because they have none in their country, but to have a different experience that they may never forget.
“Therefore the most important thing now is how unique a Hotel’s services and customer care is”, he said.
Akwasi Agyeman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority said it was necessary to identify the fundamentals of enhancing the development of the industry including product [sites and attractions] enhancement, capacity building within the industry.
He said that Ghana currently has a new legislative instrument on sites and tourism, which had gone through review by Parliament and currently at the Attorney General’s Office and the Authority, would start regulating all tourists’ sites when it was passed.
“We would then create a classification regime for them. So just as hotels are classified from one star to five star, they will also be classified as A plus, B plus and C plus so that people would know what to expect before going there,” he added.
He said the Authority would consider other problems that demote the tourism industry like the Visa Regime, adding that, it was the complaints gotten most of the time by the Authority from foreigners and investors.
The Awardees included British Airways-Most Trusted Airline (International), Ethiopian Airlines- Most Reliable Airline (Africa), ASKY Airlines- the Most Reliable Carrier (West Africa), Kenya Airways- Most Supportive National Carrier for effective promotion of the Kenyan Tourism Board and EKO Hotel and Suites-Number One Conference Venue [West Africa].
The others are Ghana Tourism Authority- Most Active Tourism Agency West Africa, and Ikechi Uko- Outstanding Tourism Personality of the Year [West Africa].
By Morkporkpor Anku, Ghana News Agency [GNA]