23.10.2007 Travel & Tourism

Signposting for Tourists in Ghana

By Mercy Adede Bolus-UK
Signposting for Tourists in Ghana
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Many countries these days are counting on tourism, not only to boost and prop up their economy but also to ensure that they get a slice of the tourism industry 's cake. The Africa Tourism Ministers met and it disclosed that Ghana took a lion's share with 796 million US dollars as receipts of tourists in the country in 2006. The report pointed out that this represented 42 per cent of West Africa's total international tourist destination receipts of 1.9 billion US dollars. This is great news indeed

it reported that, our country recorded the highest receipts per international tourist arrival of 1,855 US dollars. It further went on to explain that these figures were made known during a tourism exchange forum organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation under its Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty Foundation (UNWTO ST-EP) supported by the Korean Government in Accra. Pointing out that the forum brought together tourism Ministers and other delegates from West African member countries to deliberate on issues affecting tourism and how to turn the region into the top tourism destination of Africa. However, tourists struggle to navigate through our roads and use services as Ghana does not appear to have many signposts for services, major roads or minor roads which would encourage our tourists to be independent other than relying on us to lead them through.

Signposting key service areas for example, library, markets, tourist information centres at every town, villages and city would draw more tourists into our communities. At the same time we should not forget to encourage the locals to build museums as a focal point within their town. One would ask what could we put in the museum. Perhaps it would be worth considering displaying photos of people who have made a difference within community, photos of market scenes, and everyday activities etc. Ghanaians in Diaspora could also contribute some ideas and donate some artefacts they have from where ever to add a kind of diversity to their village or town local museum. After all as Ghanaians we are world first class travellers yet we fail to bring this diversity back into our various communities we belong to back home. Well, such wealth of diversity would enrich the villages, town and cities thus help to improve the general outlook of our local museum and facilities. If local people are employed to work in the museum which would also sell souvenirs, post cards of the village, art and craft, needlework stuff, and other activities happening within that particular area, it would all help to promote tourism within that village. The locals would then increase their knowledge of their area and could sometimes act as local paid guide for tourists. Let share those lovely photos, contribution we have made in other countries into Ghana through our local museum so that our youths might emulate our good deeds and motivate them to also contribute to our heritage.

Mr Helder Tomas, UNWTO Regional representation for Africa said the total number of international tourist arrivals in Africa in 2006 was 41million, representing 5 per cent of the world arrival. He also states that for West Africa a total of 4 million international tourists arrivals in 2006 were recorded. Ghana needs to ensure that we signpost all our services to encourage the tourists to choose Ghana as their number destination over others; the potential for growth is great.

The tourists industry is booming, as the world becomes more affluent, travels abroad for holidays and awareness of other countries grows due to the Internet and others. People want to experience the life of other countries. India and China are developing fast; these two countries alone with their vast populations could provide as many tourists as North America and Europe by the middle of this century. Lets help tourists enjoy Ghana with our clear signpostings of road, services, all major roads and all places to encourage independent travelling around Ghana. We need to use reflectors at sharp road corners, provide solar power street lights in all our streets and motorways. Feeder roads also need solar street lighting.

Surely, if Ghana is benchmarking its' tourists industry against Korea then equally we need to look into the environmental issues which goes well and critically looking into all our services. Then hopefully a daily cleaning exercise of all our town and villages would be enforced by “AMA”. The cleanliness should be our number one priority when we speak of tourism.

At the same time we need to learn all about customer care and service and how to speak without offending our potential customers, the tourist with the way we speak. Some of us lack the soft speaking touch, which actually entice people like honey and ants. I'm sure we do have various hospitality courses available in our country, which could provide workshop for all relevant organisations.

Generally, we Ghanaians get excited as when we speak but to the tourist, we may be perceived as being aggressive and worth guarding against.

Ghana has so much to offer the world and much potential opportunity for our youths and other youths international wise. Why don't we invest in educating our youths ready for this new tourist market? The earlier we invest in them, the better and ready our country would be to compete against the big players in this competitive tourist industry. Every Ghanaian in Ghana has a role to play in marketing Ghana as a product.

Although there is lack of regional tourism policy framework, insufficient Air connections, slow facilitation of travelling documents, political instability, image problem and lack of effective marketing initiatives in some African countries, as reported. Never the less, this tourist industry mission is still a do-able option when we need drastic economic growth.

It is encouraging to know that, we have identified the problems and would proactively work out solutions thus investing in these areas identified and just get on with the business ahead. There is money to be made by everyone interested.

Anyino aseyo (Welcome in Korea) to, Ambassador Dho Young Shim, Chairperson of UNWTO-STEP Foundation for this opportunity available in Ghana. As Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, Minister of Tourism also highlighted Ghana needs an effective collaboration in the areas of security, information, and experience between African Ministers in-charge of tourism in order to derive more from its abundant tourism potentials.

We countries successful in tourism show us the ropes in fine lines so that Ghana blossom and get out of the poverty trap.

However, we as a nation we need to must ensure that everyone get a slice of the benefit of the tourist industry. The benefits need to be cascaded from bottom upwards including thus including all our street hawkers. Together we stand united and eradicate poverty and slum from our maps. The only drawback would be, when we become too selfish and only want everything for our immediate families, we would fail and rot thus increasing more slums in Ghana and the rest of Africa.

I would encourage all Ghanaians in Diaspora and Ghana to start investing heavily in bricks and mortar back home and minimise the partying celebration mood. The opportunity to grow economy is in Ghana and together we would achieve greater things.

Current trend is that people are moving from cement block buildings and rather investing in cheap affordable buildings using Eco- friendly old lorry tyres sand bags, mud, and clay to build beautiful houses. Please check this on google. Some are beautifully crafted thatched roofs etc. Even old used bottles are carefully placed in between the tyres to serve as windows.

No one has any excuse any more. Let save and use our hard earn money sensibly in transforming the land scrape of Ghana.

Ghanaians hospitality is next to none, fellow Ghanaians let's keep that up and continue to be warm to who ever visits Ghana but only when they have a genuine reason to be there. Let's open our eyes widely and not stomach any clever tricks by anyone with the intention of looting and stripping Ghana our resources.

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