Tourism has potential for more achievements
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) deserve a pat on their shoulders for their hard work that has contributed to an increase in tourist traffic into the country.
GTA recorded 500,000 visitors in the first half of this year, out of the 1.2 million tourists targeted by the ministry.
On a quarterly basis, the 500,000 is more than a 50 per cent increase over the 247,834 visitors recorded in the first quarter of 2023 – and indicates a significant rebound for a sector that was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic
The Ministry and GTA are anticipating an estimated tourism revenue of US$3.4billion against the US$2billion realised in 2022.
While the GTA has attributed the rise in tourist arrivals largely to its December in Ghana (GH) initiative, we also believe that the marketing of Ghana to the global community as a peaceful country, a place that is ready to receive people of African descent from the Diaspora and a place to experience diverse cultures, a move spearheaded by the President, has contributed immensely to that.
If we must strike while the iron is hot, then we must not rest on our laurels, but do more to sustain the increased tourist arrivals into the country. The Diaspora must be used as the launch pad to achieve this, if indeed Ghana is to become the Mecca for Pan Africanism.
The country is blessed with many indigenous festivals all year round, which can be harnessed and made attractive to the international community so as to pull in guests locally, as well as those from abroad, and not wait for only December.
The country is made up of 16 regions, all of which have something to offer to attract tourists.
In this regard, the Daily Graphic calls for a deliberate plan involving all the MMDAs in all the regions to bring this into fruition.
We, therefore, find it reassuring that the GTA is already considering leveraging other peak months so that throughout the year, Ghana will be on the map for travellers.
If we are looking forward to having more guests in town all year round, then we must beef up our security and ensure effective traffic control.
Also, by allowing more people in, we are indirectly importing foreign cultures, so we must do well to convey to our guests what hurts the sensibilities of Ghanaians.
There is also the need to invest in infrastructure and grant tax rebates to vendors of top-of-the-range musical equipment and lighting to prevent embarrassing experiences as happened at some of the outdoor musical concerts.
We urge that the authorities grant special concessions to organisers of events, sanctioned by the GTA.
Further, the hospitality industry must consider discounted rates coupled with improved services, especially during peak periods, to enable more guests to afford their services.
We also urge the GTA to effectively supervise the ‘Air BNB’ business which has come to add to the hospitality business and also ensure that all in the sector meet internationally accepted standards at all times.
Indeed, when it comes to receiving guests from our airports, taxi and car hiring services are the first port of call.
We, therefore, urge the proper training of both professionals and amateurs who will be assisting guests and giving them the proverbial Ghanaian welcome when they arrive, instead of finding ways to rip them off.
Once a guest feels welcome into our country, he or she will not only want to come back, but become an ambassador who will encourage others to visit.
We admit that there is a lot to be done to make Ghana the number one tourist destination in Africa, and that is the reason why we urge the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, National Security, the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Immigration Service, the Ghana Airport Company Ltd, the Art Centre Traders Association, event organisers and traditional catering services, among others, to effectively collaborate to make it happen.