Monday, 19 June 2017

To The Minister For Tourism, Creative Arts And Culture

Honourable Minister,

We are writing to share a few ideas with you - as our widow's mite contribution to the nation-building effort.

It so happens that last year - 2016 - Thailand earned a staggering  U.S.$71 billion from the 31 million visitors who went there either for their holidays or for business.

Surely, it ought to be possible for Ghana to earn at least a quarter of that amount - if you are creative enough whiles in office - by the end of your tenure:  if you stay in your current position for the next four years?

Whatever you do, above all, please listen closely to the leading players in both the tourism and creative arts sectors. It is they who are conversant with the difficulties their respective sectors face - and what delivered reliefs will improve their businesses.

However, instead of spoonfeeding them, simply get the government - through Parliament if need be - to offer 10-year  tax breaks for both the tourism and creative arts  industries - and leave market forces to work their magic creating wealth and jobs galore in  those  sectors of our  national economy. 

There is no question that 10-year tax holidays will attract filmmakers from around the globe, for example,  to do joint-venture collaborations  with local filmmakers here for global distribution.

And if you secure 10-year tax holidays for the music industry too, and get in touch with Spotify, for example, and tell them that they can get a 10-year tax holiday in Ghana if they make Ghana their world-music headquarters, that will immediately improve the fortunes of Ghanaian musicians, and dramatically improve their hard currency earnings.

Surprising though it might be to some, you actually  have it within your power to create  wealth that stays in Ghana and jobs galore for our unemployed younger generations.

For example, instead of using hapless taxpayers' money to sponsor well-off paragliders from wealthy nations in the West to come to Ghana for the Kwahu Easter paragliding festival, why do you not simply get the telcos to band together to offer attractive prize  money (of say U.S.$50,000  - an absolute fortune unheard of in the world of paragliding, incidentally), for a World Paragliding Championship event during the Easter holidays at the Kwahu mountains?

If the prize money for the world paragliding championship is sufficiently attractive, it will draw paragliders from all over the world to the event - and it will be covered by the mainstream media from their home countries too, once word spreads about the event.

And, instead of  being burdens on the public purse, participants in the championship from abroad, will spend  their own money paying for hotel accommodation, transport, meals and buying souvenirs for their trips back home.

You can use the money that would have been spent on them from the public purse to invite travel writers from the biggest newspapers and travel magazines in Europe, the U.S. and the UK instead, to tour Ghana, and write about our marvellous and welcoming homeland and its incredibly friendly people, for their audiences.

Do make sure they visit and stay overnight at the Mole National Park. It is a fantastic place for watching African elephants - and truly world-class.

Finally, if possible, let your ministry collaborate closely with Brian Mullis'  Sustainable Travel International (STI) to professionalise and enhance Ghana's tourism sector's responsible  tourism initiatives and sustainability agenda.

Thanks.

Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,

Kofi.
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