Only 3% of Ghana’s income comes through tourism. While at the summit, Bollie (of Reggie & Bollie) made reference to when he was on holiday in Jamaica, as much as he loved it, he said that Jamaica not dissimilar to Ghana. A friend of mine said the same thing. While I haven’t been yet (hoping to go next year), I envisage that there will be strong similarities. In fact, I believe that you will get the same as in Jamaica and Kenya and all the other countries we call “paradise” and we get a whole lot more. Ghana was the hub of the slave trade, it was also the first country to gain independence, so if you have that rich history, as well as the Safari and the beaches, why are people running to countries such as Jamaica or Kenya while Ghana is like that girl that no one asks out on a date.
In Ghana, there is the Capital City of Accra which has become like any capital city with its clubs and pubs (and traffic). There is though the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and park, Independence Square, Osu Castle, Flagstaff House and the Arts and Cultural Centre amongst other places. If you travel further west, there are the two Castles Elmina and Cape Coast where you are take on a tour of the history of the slave trade. In the Northern region there is Mole National Park for those who like a Safari tour. In the Ashanti Region there is the cultural centre, lake Bosomtwe and of course the Kente Weaving town of Bonwire. In the Volta Region you can go on a cruise on the Volta river or visit the spa at Sogakope. Then there is the Aburi mountains with its beautiful sights. If you just want to chill out on the beach, there is Labadi, Busia, Bojo, Coco, Tawala just to name a few. I could go on, but I am sure you get my drift.
So why is tourism so low. I don’t think that is awareness, the Black Stars put Ghana on the map when they entered the World Cup back in 2006. Perception? I guess many African countries are seen as unsafe but people flock to South Africa and I wouldn’t think they were safer than Ghana.
In my opinion, pricing has a lot to do with lack of travel. I was looking in the newspaper the other day (I know, who reads those any more). There was a holiday package to Thailand which included flights and accommodation for £800. If I travel to Ghana and I want a direct flight, £600-700 has left my account before I have arrived at Kotoka International Airport.
In terms of accommodation, again, if I go onto bookings.com or one of those websites I can stay in a very good hotel for around £40-£50 per night. In Ghana, if didn’t have any where to stay, a good hotel is the equivalent of £100 a night or more (they mainly charge in dollars). So you are looking at spending £2,000 plus before you think about travelling costs, sightseeing, gifts, eating or any other extras.
It was talked about at the summit, it was said that the hotels import most of their stuff (I don’t know what) plus low demand is the probable cause for the high prices. Why are hotels not buying made in Ghana where possible. What are the hotels like your Golden Tulip, Holiday Inn, Marriot etc.. doing to increase demand and attract tourism? What is the aviation authority’s contribution to increasing tourism? Why did Virgin Airlines leave the market? Why has British Airways practically monopolised the market and we have little option but to pay out crazy airfare prices? Where is our airline?
A good friend of mine came to visit me in Ghana some years ago and she loved it. I couldn’t take her on a full tour but we at least got to travel to Cape Coast and visit Elmina Castle. We were able to do that because I had the support and I was there to support her.
Until we collectively support each other to grow this industry, and when I see we I mean us AND those in the power to help us do so, the tourism industry will not grow. You can build the biggest theme park in the world but there are a lot more variables to getting people in there than a tourism ambassador and word of mouth. We also need the people who are setting up shop on our land to help out as well. Otherwise it’s just a very expensive country with no one to appreciate it, income will certainly not grow much past its current 3%, in my opinion, but that’s just my thoughts.