A country that does poor in tourism has high unemployment rate. A typical example is Ghana. Countries that do well in tourism like Singapore, Kenya and Indonesia has majority of its working population employed by the tourism sector. With a little training, one can become either a tour guide or a driver or one of the many other jobs available in the hospitality industry.
Ghana has in the past years tried to promote its tourism sector through channeling stupendous efforts in fanfares and the famous Kwahu Easter celebrations leaving the existing tourist attractions in very bad states.
The current sector Minister, Catherine Afeku, has begun her job on a bad note nearly a year into office and has to vacate her post immediately because of the following reasons:
1 – No clue on the job
The ‘See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana and Feel Ghana’ campaign which is the main project of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, aimed at promoting Ghana’s tourism is a clear indication that the sector minister has no clue on the job. Are we not already eating Ghana? What should we see? The dirty beaches? The abandoned forts? The many deteriorated attractions?
Dr Issahaku Adam, a senior lecturer in Tourism Management at the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Cape Coast; believes that, while this campaign feeds into the tenets of destination branding, government appears oblivious to the fact that destinations are not just branded based on slogans but innovative products.
“Destination branding precedes product development. What product(s) do visitors gaze at? What do they eat? And what do they wear or feel? It should be noted that local foods, dresses and lifestyles of Ghanaians are part of the natural offerings as a destination. Tourists will, by all means, experience these cultural elements of the destination once they visit. Indeed, we do not have to launch campaigns on these elements as a destination rather an integrated product development scheme based on a multi-product destination called Ghana is what is required.” – Dr Issahaku Adam explained.
2 – Tourism Ambassadors
The appointment of tourism ambassadors was a good move to get other influential personalities involved in promoting Ghana’s tourism. As was expected, the ambassadors were to make impacts on Ghana’s tourism using their recognition and special roles to project the rich culture of the country, including arts, but rather hit us with huge bills in undertaking funny projects which would in the end yield appalling results, and in some cases none at all. Some of the projects presented by these ambassadors so far include composing music to promote cocoa consumption, Ghana day festival in Korea and a video production for each one of the 10 regions of Ghana. Interestingly, the national food buffer stock company has launched a project to give one million SHS students free hot chocolate drinks and the Cable News Network (CNN) has been hired to shoot video documentaries of our tourist sites to be shown on CNN. One is tempted to believe that the appointment of these ambassadors was a means to employ persons, specifically in the public space who helped the governing party to win power. In a nutshell, the appointment of these tourism ambassadors appears to be more of government reciprocating their hard work through the Tourism Ministry.
Before appointments, these ambassadors were in their own way selling Ghana’s tourism. So the appointment should serve as a motivation to do more rather than coming up with bogus projects that would yield no results.
3 – Irrelevant fanfares and projects
The ‘Jollof Rice Festival’ which according to the Ghana Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, was to promote local tourism on a global scale, rather ended up as a complete waste of state funds. What good did this competition do to Ghana, specifically tourism? Even events like the Asantehemaa’s funeral that the ministry could have taken advantage of was neglected. The launch of Agya Koo TV, Daddy Lumba TV and the Ministry’s involvement in setting up of the Tourism TV are few examples of irrelevant projects undertaken by the ministry. What TV station can promote Ghana’s Tourism better than GTV?
“Another worrying trend is the fixation on fanfares as the ultimate marketing medium for Ghana’s tourism products. We are of the view that the use of fanfares where musicians are brought together with other entertainment personalities is not and has not been successful as marketing medium for tourism. Have we ascertained the impact of such fanfares? More worrying is that at such events, we are not able to project any single concept of a product apart from eulogizing the age-old attractions. The huge monies spent on such events could help in the diversification of our attraction base. Even the existing attractions are deteriorating due to the lack of interest in product development and enhancement.” – Charles A. Adongo (Lecturer in Tourism Management at the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Cape Coast).
4 – Social Media
The only period the Tourism Minister, Catherine Afeku, was active on Facebook was during the 2016 elections. She was actively using Facebook as a medium to reach voters to persuade them of bringing her into parliament. The Minister ceased using her Facebook account right after winning the elections. Tourism promotion cannot be complete without social media especially in today’s world where people become better acquainted with a particular brand after seeing its presence on multiple networks- social media. The personal decision of staying away from social media as means of promoting Ghana’s tourism sends a strong message that she is really not into the betterment of Ghana’s tourism. If the minister herself is not initiating a conversation on tourism on social media, then who else should do?
5 – No internet at the airport
So far, Ghana is the only known country with no internet access in its airport. The only international airport here in the country as a matter of fact. Passengers on transit and travelers who are finding it difficult to find their way around always rely on the internet to keep them company and provide them with information respectively. Can you just imagine how boring it would be to find yourself in this situation without access to internet? Moreover, the airport is the first point of attraction for every traveler. The experience one enjoys at the airport gives a picture of what to expect in the country. The minister can sacrifice one of her many travels to fix a wireless internet at the airport. Over-looking this signifies a complete sense of negligence of duty.
The tourism sector is expected to create jobs and not to incur losses for the state. Tourist arrivals in the country have contributed to Ghana’s GDP and are mainly Ghanaians in the diaspora visiting families here. The tourism experience of the country is not such that could effect a repeat visit or a recommendation. Much work needs to be done and a competent sector minister is needed.
Tourism in Ghana needs a systematic approach. The country cannot spend huge monies in promoting a sector that has relatively nothing to offer. What do you promote? Even the little we have, how are we promoting them? No social media, and the ministry’s website is currently under-construction.
If the President overlooks these concerns and maintain Madam Catherine Afeku, then it would be accepted that the Presidency, the NPP and the government as a whole, is using the Tourism Ministry as means to perpetuate incompetence.
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