The Tour Operators Union of Ghana is urging the government to consider issuing e-visas as an incentive to drawing more tourists into the country.
“The ease of e-visas has a lot to contribute to the growth of tourism in Ghana and we can’t look further than Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia to see the impact on in-bound arrivals numbers.
“While applauding the government for maintaining the Visa on Arrival policy started on July 1, 2016, TOUGHA believes that it is very important for the government to ride on the applause Ghana is receiving at international tourism gatherings across the continent to begin issuing e-visas,” a statement signed by the union’s President, Mr Kwesi Eyison said.
The statement to commemorate this year’s World Tourism Day on September 27 also urged the government to consider modernising data collection at the newly constructed Terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport.
The Terminal 3 project started in 2015, was opened on September 15, 2018.
“With the Terminal 3 receiving great reviews in tourism circles around the world, it is also important to modernise some of the operations at the airport.
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“We have options to either scrap the existing departure and arrival forms or introduce a self-scan system as pertains in most technologically-savvy airports across the world rather than get stuck with the filling of those forms,” the union said.
World Tourism Day
The World Tourism Day is a day set aside by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to raise awareness on tourism’s actual and potential contribution to sustainable development.
Anchored on the theme “Tourism and the Digital Transformation,” this year’s event was expected to put the opportunities provided to tourism, by technological advances including big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, on the map of sustainable development.
The UNWTO sees digital advances and innovation as part of the solution to the challenge of marrying continued growth with a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector.
In that regard, TOUGHA urged the government to provide the needed incentives to the private sector and where necessary crack the whip to ensure that all parts of the country are connected and digitally smart.
“Each positive photo posted on social media from any tourist site, however, remote counts as a marketing tool. Each payment made via mobile money to a food vendor is building the industry. We can’t afford to lose out,” it said.
Bridge digital divide
Statistics from the National Communications Authority (NCA) at the end of July, 2018 indicates that mobile voice subscriptions in Ghana had reached a little over 40 million, representing 137.35 per cent penetration rate.
Internet penetration on the other hand stands at a little over 22 million, representing a penetration rate of 75.54 per cent.
But the statement said while the numbers may be commendable, “the sad reality is that these numbers are concentrated in urban environment where telecom infrastructure tends to be better, leaving out rural dwellers.”
“Ironically, the reality is that most of our tourism offerings are located in rural areas but they are those most disconnected from even basic internet services which are now a key driver for the industry today, “the statement said.