PRESIDENT John Agyekum Kufuor at the weekend inaugurated the refurbished City Hotel now christened Golden Tulip Kumasi City with the firm assurance that the government was determined to restore life to state hotels that had been left to go waste over a long period of time.
He stated that some of the hotels were sold “under questionable conditions and sale terms”, and said government was looking for funds to buy them back to pave the way for their restoration.
President Kufuor said the former City Hotel constituted one of the important national hotels rated in the same class as the Ambassador Hotel in Accra, Atlantic Hotel in Takoradi and the Meridian Hotel in Tema, but mismanagement plunged them into ruins.
The $21.2 million four-star Golden Tulip Kumasi City, constructed by the China State Hualong Construction Ghana Limited, is owned by the Ghana Libyan-Arab Holding Company (GLAHCO), a joint investment venture between the Ghana Government (40 percent) and the Libyan Government (60 percent).
It was financed by the Libyan Arab African Investment Company ($4.5 million), the Government of Ghana ($3.7 million) and the Ghana Commercial Bank, which granted a loan of $13 million.
The 160-room hotel had other facilities including an a la carte restaurant, lobby bar, pool side bar, health club facilities, a swimming pool, conference and meeting rooms among others.
GLAHCO had entered into an agreement with Golden Tulip Hospitality Group of the Netherlands to manage the hotel, which was expected to offer employment to about 140 people at full capacity.
President Kufuor said the rebirth of the hotel was very timely, coming at a time Kumasi was hard-pressed for hotel facilities to accommodate the four nations and thousands of officials and fans for the 26th African Cup of Nations. “With this hotel and other amenities, Kumasi is ready to co-host the event’, the President said.
Emphasizing the tourism potentials of Kumasi in particular and the Ashanti Region in general, Mr Kufuor said, “often visitors to Ghana want to experience the indegenous culture, so they will continue to travel up country, that is why facilities must be available to house them when they come”,
He noted the infrastructure government continued to put in place to open up the country and said, this was a clear testimony of the government’s resolve to change the development face of the country for the better.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, traced the history of the divesture of the former City Hotel, which dated back to August 1996 when a company by name Ace Hotels and Resorts Limited acquired the hotel but problems arose in the implementation stage leading to a legal dispute between Ace Hotels and GLAHCO, which delayed the rehabilitation for a long period but added that, at the instance of the Government of Ghana, the legal battle was settled out of court in 2004.
Mr Baah-Wiredu praised President Kufuor for the massive support he gave in having the dispute settled out of court.
He disclosed plans by GLAHCO to undertake various projects including the rehabilitation of Golden Tulip Accra to bring it to modern standards, and said the rehabilitation, which starts in May, this year, would take six months to complete and would be undertaken in a way that would keep the hotel in operation while work were ongoing.
Other projects GLAHCO would undertake were the development of the company’s parcel of land at Tema to provide warehousing facilities, the development of the company’s land at Osu currently occupied by MTN to an office complex and internationally-rated two star hotel, and the development of their land near Sogakope to grow vegetables in commercial quantities for export to Europe.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr E.A. Owusu-Ansah, expressed the hope that the completion of the project would mark the beginning of more projects from Libya to the region.
He called on the management of the hotel to create avenues for the promotion of domestic tourism, conference tourism and also project the rich Ashanti culture.
The Managing Director of GLAHCO, Mr Abdul amid Karmus, was confident that the hotel would be successful, taking into consideration the political, economic and social importance of the city of Kumasi.