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Central Region, still maintains its enviable position as the tourism “heartbeat” of Ghana with the sector growing by 20 percent in 2018 despite numerous challenges.

Mr Kwame Gyasi, Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) who disclosed this noted that, the Region could boast of three of the five major tourist attractions in the country and continued to be the fortress of tourism in the country.

Speaking at the Central Regional Tourism Awards organised by the GTA at the Manna Heights Hotel in Mankessim, the Regional Director enumerated some of the challenges to include poor road network and lack of personnel.

The event, on the theme: “Celebrating our Heritage” was to reward excellence by tourism operators and workers in the tourism industry and recognise individual initiative in tourism development.

According to Mr Gyasi, the event presented a golden opportunity for industry players in the region to re-invent themselves, come together and package the Region very well to attract more tourists and to further develop the sector.

Nana Oduro Kwarteng, former Chief Director at the Ministry of Tourism underscored the importance of culture to the development of the country and said culture must be made an integral part of Ghana’s economic planning.

“Culture is still relevant in this modern times if well harnessed. We need to be able to use our cultural heritage to our advantage. Culture must be part of the socio-economic development of this country”.

He in this regard, charged players in the hospitality industry to be the driving force behind the country’s culture by promoting and patronising Ghanaian products as they do business in their facilities.

Mr Philip Mensah, Manager in charge of Special Duties at GTA said Ghana was expected to receive over 500,000 Africans in the Diaspora this year (2019) which had been marked ‘The Year of Return’, to commemorate the end of 400 years of the slave trade in Ghana.

He said the event would come with enormous business opportunities that would boost the economic fortunes of the country and therefore, urged stakeholders in the tourism industry, to strategically, position themselves to tap into the opportunities.

Mr Mensah also encouraged them to adhere to high standards and deliver quality service which was key to sustaining the tourism industry.

In all, 16 competitive and three honorary awards were given to deserving individuals and institutions for their contribution towards tourism development in the region.

In the competitive award category, Cape 360 online portal was adjudged tourism oriented media organisation.

Genevieva Lodge secured the Budget hotel of the year, Kokodo Guest House in Cape Coast, Guest House of the year, Golden Hill, Manna Heights and Royal Ridge Hotel were adjudged best 1-Star, 2-Star and 3-Star hotels of the year respectively.

Others were Mawusi Catering Services, Chop Bar of the year, Sahara Pub, Drinking Bar of the year, Solace Restaurant and Run-Off Restaurant, best restaurant grade 3 and 2 respectively.

On the travel services, Geomens Car Rentals won the best car rental service award, Ashanti Africa Tours, Tour Operator of the year, Mr Isaac Kofi Mensah, Tour Guide of the year and Mr Stephen Apana Adongo, site guide of the year.

The Tourism and Hospitality Departments of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and the Cape Coast Technical University were honoured for their institutional support for tourism development and promotion.

The Coconut Groove Resort in Elmina, Global View Hotel, Kasoa, Windy Lodge, Winneba and the Centre for National Culture (CNC) also received awards for their corporate support towards tourism development and promotion.

Individuals including Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, Omanhene of Oguaa Traditional Area, Mr Rabbi Cohen Halevi of the PANAFEST Secretariat also received awards for their support for tourism development and promotion in the region.

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