GHANA’S TOURISM POLICE!

Posted on March 5, 2010

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The article below from the Ghana News Agency appeared in the papers a couple of days ago.

A good thing? Your take?

Accra, March 2, GNA – A specialized unit within the Ghana Police Service to provide security and safety for tourists at tourism establishments was on Tuesday launched in Accra.

The unit called “Tourism Police,” will have police personnel in mufti stationed at centres patronized by tourists, especially beaches, highways, airports, bus stops, public parks and hotel, lodges, entertainment spots, museums, tourist sites and market places.

Department (CID), at a press conference to outdoor the unit, said the core functions of the task force would include handling and receiving inquiries, claims and complaints by tourists as well as investigate tourist-related crimes and prosecute offenders.

“The tourism taskforce will ensure that all tourism and tourism related establishments are registered and licensed by the Ghana Tourist Board.” He said tourism establishments would require documents, including Business Registration, building permits, development permit, police permit, fire certificate, environmental health certificate, site plan and basic building drawings, environmental impact assessment, business plan and insurance certificate. DSP Asiwoko pointed out that the idea to establish a tourism police had become necessary in view of the fact that Ghana’s tourism was growing at a very fast rate and the challenge of insecurity had become clearly imperative.

He therefore advised owners of tourism establishments to display valid licenses at the first point of call on their premises since the task force would close down establishments which had not displayed valid licenses. DSP Asiwoko said late last year a delegation made up of members of the Tour Operators Union of Ghana, the Tourism Safety and Security Initiative, an NGO, and the Ghana Police Service toured Egypt to study their tourism policing system. He said: “Tourism is assuming greater importance and therefore safety and security dimensions are very important and will not be compromised.” Safety and security issues, he said, were tied to a destination’s image, he said, and called for wider consumer awareness to ensure that the country had a positive image.

Mr Edwin Owusu Mensah, Deputy Executive Director of the Ghana Tourist Board, said Ghana had not dealt with security issues with regard to tourism in an organized manner. He therefore lauded the establishment of the Tourism Police and expressed the hope that it would help to ensure good safety practices. 2 March 10

At yesterday’s regular monthly meeting of the Ashanti GHANA HOTELS ASSOCIATION, MADINGHANA also know as Four Villages, stated his candid opinion on the TOURISM POLICE to the 60 members in attendance. (An aside- I am always consciously trying to be model of free speech in this young democracy. I believe that the strength of a democracy does not lie in regular elections, but what happens between elections when people are gathered to deliberate and act on their issues.)

It’s a good thing. Tourism is growing and Ghana’s image as a secure/safe destination is crucial to the development of tourism. A division to handle complaints from tourists and about tourists is needed as well as to patrol places highly frequented by tourists. MADINGHANA has written about numerous incidents in this blog-like the early morning STC dangers in Tamale, the incident at a Kumasi hotel where a staff member made a perceived sexual advance on a lone female tourist, the incident at a Cape Coast guesthouse. And over the ten years, we’ve been in the business, Charity and I have listened to so many other bad stories….

What Madinghana does not agree with is the unit’s powers extended to checking an establishment’s documents. Look at the documents listed there in the article! There are authorities mandated to do this-principally THE GHANA TOURIST BOARD which does shut down illegal operations. There are the local district assemblies that also issue licenses, and environmental protection, health, fire and police. They are all there to monitor us.

Let the focus be on crime not bureaucracy.

I finished. There was silence, and my chairman quickly went on to the next item on the agenda…the funeral of our late administrative secretary…

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Posted in: 1, TOURISM ISSUES