The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Samuel Osei-Mensah, has indicated a more aggressive push to boost tourism to substantially raise its contribution to the economy.

He said deliberate steps would be taken to develop tourist attraction sites to increase international and domestic arrivals.

Tourism is the nation’s fourth major foreign exchange earner and contributed about GH¢4.5 billion to the economy in year 2015.

Mr. Osei-Mensah, speaking at a day’s stakeholders’ seminar said there could be no doubt about the sector’s potential to create jobs and strengthen the economies of the local communities.

The programme was meant to build the capacity of operators in the hospitality industry.

It was organized by Nasoa Services Limited, an event organizing company, and brought together managers of travel and tour companies, car rentals, hotels and restaurants.

The Minister noted that about 90 per cent of tourist attraction sites was in the rural communities, where the roads were poor and lacked vital facilities and said these would need to be tackled.

He appealed to the tourism industry to develop clear cut policy on its budgetary allocation to develop these sites.

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr. Ziblim Iddi, said they were eager to ensure that tourism became a major driver of the economy.

It was on the basis of this that the Ministry would go the extra mile to make sure that set standards were met by operators in the industry.

He spoke of plans to modernize the Esi Sutherland Children’s Park and upgrade facilities at the Mole Game Reserve and Paga Crocodile Pond.

Regional theatres would also be built in Kumasi, Cape Coast and Takoradi, he added.

Mr. Osei Assibey-Antwi, the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive, said the Ashanti Region had rich culture that could be well packaged and sold to the outside world.

He said the promotion of tourism should go hand-in-hand with the improvement of environmental sanitation.