The Ghana Tourism Authority has begun discussions with the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) over the cost of power to hoteliers, as part of government’s plans to subsidise electricity bills for operators in the hospitality industry.
This discussion has become necessary given the high cost of electricity to hotels, a development that has led to the collapse of many budget hotels across the country.
The Acting CEO the Ghana Tourism Authority, Akwasi Agyeman, disclosed this when responding to concerns by some hotel operators at a roundtable discussion organised by the Ghana office of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.
According to some hoteliers, the significant increment in utility bills over the last two years is one of the main reasons for the cost-rise of doing business in the industry, adding that utility bills alone make up 45% of their operational costs.
“Hotels in the country are indeed suffering from a multiplicity of taxes with about 22 of them hanging on their necks, and the cost of electricity is the biggest issue for them. I visited a hotel in the Ashanti Region; it’s a two-star hotel and their monthly electricity bill was GH¢45,000. I also visited another one in Accra, which was three-star, and their bill was GH¢225,000 a month. And is not like the rooms are full every day.
So, taking a cue from there, we’ve been engaging the PURC and proposed that they look at bills based on economic activity. This is because hotels by their nature will have a lot of outdoor lights to brighten the place and for security purposes,” Mr. Agyeman said.
Mr. Agyeman further stated that: “We expect hotels to be put in a different category, not commercial and maybe not residential as well – but a category that will attract lesser cost. Other than that, we will have a meter per room for them. This is because the way our billing system is designed, when you cross a particular threshold you fall into commercial zone with the rates going up.”
He indicated that GTA is in talks with the Energy Commission, through the Ministry of Energy, for the provision of solar facilities for selected hotels.
“We have also met the Energy Ministry on extending the solar facility programme to hotels in the country. Now the question has to do with the initial cost, which is very expensive though; but we have the Exim Bank agreeing to come on board to allow solar facilities be given to those interested at a cheaper rate. This, we know, will be far cheaper than the national grid,” he said. – B&FT