The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) is embarking on an aggressive data gathering exercise that will be presented to the Finance Ministry to justify granting corporate tax reliefs to players in the tourism industry – especially hotels, restaurants and others – as a result of Covid-19.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO) and Audio Visual Rights Society of Ghana (ARSOG) as impacts of the virus get worse.
According to Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Akwasi Agyeman, the sector has been negatively affected as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent presidential directive to deal with the outbreak in Ghana.
Mr. Agyeman estimates that players in the tourism sector here in Ghana will lose millions of cedis to the pandemic, and will need some cushioning to sustain operations during and after the pandemic.
The GTA has cancelled its annual Kwahu Easter celebrations and all activities associated with it. Hotel occupancy and associated events have dropped significantly due to the president’s directive against public gathering. Bars and restaurants across the country are becoming inactive as a result of the directives as well.
Ghana raked in between GH¢30-40million from the Kwahu Easter celebration alone – an amount the nation is likely to lose this year, according to data from GTA. The Kwahu Paragliding event, which has already registered 250 people, will have to refund monies as the event will no longer take place. A cruise ship that was detailed to come into Takoradi Port this month has also been called off.
Mr. Agyeman added that all associations and agencies have been asked to come up with data which will be presented to the sector minister for onward submission to the Finance Ministry to push for some incentives.
“We need the data to be able to assist our sector ministry and the Ministry of Finance in its policy directives. With the state of affairs currently, we have asked the operators to present some of the things that can be done to assist them; and they have said deferring certain taxes, as well as a potential reduction in taxes and utility prices will help,” he said.
According to Mr. Agyeman, the up-market hotels have seen a significant drop in occupancy. “They have dropped from about 70 percent occupancy to 20 percent.” According to him, the development can also lead to job-losses as many employees will have little or nothing to do at work.
Backing Mr. Agyeman’s call, president of the Ghana Hotels Association, Dr. Edward Ackah-Nyamike Jnr., told B&FT that the industry is indeed going through a very tough time; thus, the GTA boss’s call is in the right direction.
“We are working hard to get him the data as soon as possible. The more we get money the more we pay taxes; but in this case we are getting nothing. We also want regulatory payments looked at and possibly cancelled for a period. This will help the sector. Some hotels are going to shut down if nothing happens, and this will affect jobs and the economy.”