Emmanuel Mensah (middle), Sales and Marketing Manager, Royal Senchi Hotel and Resort, and some potential buyers displaying some magazines
Emmanuel Mensah (middle), Sales and Marketing Manager, Royal Senchi Hotel and Resort, and some potential buyers displaying some magazines

Interest in Ghana’s tourism offering high at Africa’s Travel Indaba

Ghana did not take up a stand at the just-ended Africa's Travel Indaba (ATI) in Durban, South Africa to market its sociopolitical stability and tourism potential, but that did not stop participants’ insatiable interest in the country’s tourism offerings.

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Unlike most African countries, Ghana did not have a pavilion at the exhibition and only one private company made it to the ATI, arguably the continent's biggest tourist showcase. Two other Ghanaians represented their companies as panellists in the conferences.

The conspicuous absence at the event was in spite of the fact this year’s ATI was the first travel and tourism fair after Ghana and South Africa waived visa requirements that saw Ghanaians travelling to the southern Africa country rising by more than 249.4 per cent in the first three months of this year.

The Daily Graphic observed that despite the country's absence, it was, arguably, the second most sought after at the fair, with most participants asking about its travel and tourism potential.

Staff of the Royal Senchi Hotel and Resort, who went to showcase their facilities, were forced to double as national marketers for the country in the absence of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and its agencies.

Information gathered from the South African Ministry of Tourism indicated that an official invitation was extended to its counterpart in Ghana for full participation yet was not honoured.

The Deputy Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, (MOTAC), Mark Okraku-Mantey, was present at the African Tourism Ministers’ dialogue session (BONDay) of the ATI on May 13, 2024, but was absent for the main event which took place between May 14 and 16, 2024 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa.

The three-day event created a unique opportunity for 1,200 exhibitors, including 26 African countries, and over 1,100 buyers representing 55 countries across the world to interact and forge strong partnerships.

The key highlight was the country pavilions where participating nations took turns to market their cuisines, tourism establishments and cultural and historical heritage to potential buyers.

Take advantage

The Sales and Marketing Manager of Royal Senchi Hotel and Resort, Emmanuel Mensah, told the Daily Graphic that the interest in Ghana as a brand for the participants in the last three days had been massive.

“We noticed that there was a lot of interest in anything Ghanaian and so, the Royal Senchi was excited to be the only representative of Ghana that had a stand here.

“Many people came around asking about Ghana’s stand and their comments are mostly centred on jollof rice, shito, ‘Detty December’ among others. So, we used the opportunity to create awareness of our facility and the country in general and I can confirm that it has been positive for us,” he said.

“The Ghana Tourism Authority backed by its parent ministry could have easily spearheaded this to bring along a lot of our tourism related firms to participate and sell themselves to a larger international market because it could be a shared cost and many of the facilities can accommodate,” Mr Mensah said.

He said Ghana at this moment must take advantage of Nigeria’s absence to attract the traffic as the sole tourism destination for West Africa.

Big deals

Mr Mensah stated that Royal Senchi was able to build many relationships with international travel agents and their agencies who were interested in bringing business to Ghana. “We were able to seal three big deals of large groupings from America and the Caribbean that are coming to Ghana in December as tourists and this is really positive for not only us but our economy as well,” he said.

Huge market

The Operations Manager of Adansi Travels Limited, Michael Dwomoh, who was a panellist at a session of the ATI, told the Daily Graphic that the experience and knowledge acquired through the ATI had been extremely exceptional.

He said the growth seen in tourist arrivals in South Africa from Ghana presented a huge market and interest for travel and tour operators to explore. “We will need to position ourselves well, offer attractive packages and destinations such as KwaZulu-Natal which offers an immense tourism experience.

“KwaZulu-Natal is a beautiful area full of tourist attractions and activities that combine well with good hotels. We shall plan group trips to include KwaZulu-Natal as well as offer it to our clients,” he added.

Boost tourism

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Eves Travelcation, Yvonne Ackom Mensah, said the ATI had the potential to significantly boost tourism for Ghana by showcasing its unique attractions, fostering partnerships and facilitating meaningful connections between industry players.

She added that with a focus on promoting authentic experiences, cultural immersion and sustainable tourism practices, the event was also poised to attract a new wave of Ghanaian travellers eager to explore the beauty and diversity of KwaZulu-Natal.

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