Thinking of renting your apartment, building or spare rooms to guests during festivities and occasions to earn some money? Desiring to share your home as a host with guests who want to experience the Ghanaian culture and live with indigenes? Do you know that you require a licence to provide such services?
When Christmas, Easter and other festivities approach, people let out extra rooms in their houses to guests who travel from far and near to participate in those festivities. Persons intending to provide such accommodation services must tread cautiously since the provision of tourist accommodation is a regulated activity.
Tourist accommodation includes a hotel, guest house, home lodge, home stay, serviced flat, holiday apartment and a resort.
The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) is the agency established under the Tourism Act, 2011 (Act 817) as amended to regulate tourism enterprises including tourist accommodations. The GTA is mandated among other things to take appropriate measures for the safety and security of consumers of the tourism industry, issue licences to operators in the tourism industry as well as regulate and supervise tourism enterprises.
A person who intends to operate a tourist accommodation facility such as home lodge, home stay, serviced flat, holiday apartment, guest house, lodge and hotel must obtain a licence from the GTA. The licence application procedure includes completing and submitting the relevant application form to the GTA and paying the prescribed fees. The GTA conducts an inspection at the tourist accommodation facility and if satisfied, grants the licence. The purpose of the GTA inspection process is to ensure that a tourist accommodation facility has the requisite amenities and provides the requisite sanitary conditions and adequate security for guests.
A licence is valid for twelve months and must be renewed annually.
The law prohibits a person from operating a tourist accommodation without obtaining the requisite licence from the GTA. A person who operates a tourism enterprise without a valid licence from the GTA commits an offence and risks being subjected to a fine up to GHS1,200 or a term of imprisonment up to six months or both. The GTA from time to time undertakes enforcement exercises and shuts down tourism enterprises operating without licences.
In conclusion, before commencing the provision of tourist accommodation, irrespective of the size or category of enterprise, an operator must obtain a licence from the GTA to avoid the application of sanctions.