The Ghana Tourism Authority in the Eastern Region has closed down 12 hospitality facilities in two municipalities for flouting tourism regulations .
A total of 25 hospitality facilities are expected to be closed down across the Eastern Region in the next nine days, according to officials.
The Eastern Regional Director of the Authority (GTA), Frederick Adjei-Rudolf, says the state loses revenue while hospitality facilities provide substandard services that derails gains made in the tourism and hospitality facilities hence the exercise.
“If you recall sometime in April, we embarked on a similar exercise at Kwahu. There are some facilities operating illegally which means that they don’t have a valid license to operate and that is against the law. We want to weed out those operating on the tourism space. In the last five years, we have done so much to project the interest of the country, so if these facilities are operating without the requisite license, we are losing revenue and most importantly they would be providing substandard services which will kind of derail the kind of hospitality and tourism industry we are building. It is also not right for some to do the right things whiles others fail to do so.”
A number of the hospitality facilities closed have not registered to operate with a valid license after several caution. Others have failed to complete processes to be licensed while many owe annual operational license fees.
Among the ten hospitality facilities are four private hostel facilities providing accommodation for students of the Koforidua Technical University. The rest are three canteens and five hotel facilities.
The annual license fee for food, beverage and entertainment facilities is GH¢50 a year, failure to pay attracts a fine of GH¢50 after several notice and a GH¢600 operational cost for the closure notice exercise.
With the enforcement notice from the GTA, guest houses, hotels and other facilities cannot operate until due diligence is done in the next 24 hours.
Some of the operators of the hospitality facilities conceded flouting the laws others gave excuses.
“I am ready to pay the fine. When they came here the other time, I told them I don’t have enough money, I have nothing more to say.”
The tourism regulations, LI 2239 Tourism Regulations, 2016 (Section 12), states that subject to regulation 30, a person shall not engage in the business of providing tourist accommodation service if that person does not have license issued in accordance with section 25 to 29 of the act .
Tourism Act 817 (1) mandates the Authority to register and license all tourism enterprises and sites. Whiles Section Two (2) also states a person shall not operate a tourism enterprise listed in the schedules unless that person holds a valid license issued by the Authority in respect of that tourism hotels, guest Houses, hotels, apartments and lodges referred to.
For those operating beverage, food and entertainment facilities, they must adhere to Section 1, Subsection (1) of the tourism L.I. on ‘Prohibition of Unlicensed Operations’.
“Subject to regulation 21, a person shall not operate a food, beverage or entertainment enterprise unless the person is registered and licensed by the Authority in accordance with Section 25 to 28 of the Act to offer a food, beverage or entertainment enterprise service.”
The Eastern Region GTA Director, Frederick Adjei-Rudolf, pointed out the state cannot continue to lose out on revenue while businesses flout regulations.
“Unfortunately, all the facilities for this particular exercise are operating in blatant contravention of these laws and it is our duty as an Authority to uphold the sanctity of the relevant provisions of the law to the letter. This sheer impunity by some operators will not be countenanced. The tourism and hospitality industry is gradually bouncing back from the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He added: “We as regulators of the industry must be up and doing to ensure that mushroom and substandard facilities do not derail the gains chalked so far. We must also protect the survival of operators that are law abiding and provide standard services to patrons within the confines of the laws of the land. Enforcing closure is not a pleasant exercise.
We would rather not have a situation to be engaged in closures, but recalcitrant operators have left us with no choice but to do this in accordance to laid down laws to protect the industry. This duty, we shall perform without fear or favour.”
Students of the Koforidua Technical University in the private hostels fear a total closure of their hostel facilities will put a challenge on them.
“I pray this is resolved well else we may have to go search for new hostel. We have paid already.”
The hostels have 24 hours to report to the GTA office for discussions.
“For the hostels because they have students in the hostel for now, when they come and pay the administrative fee, we will sit down with the owners and agree realistically when they can submit that document. If it’s okay with us, we will ask them to sign another undertaking and if that undertaking expires, we will have to evacuate all the students.”