On Ghana Tourism
In recent times, we read constantly about Government's plan to expand tourism in Ghana. If what we read is true, the Minister and his assistants are untiringly telling audiences in and outside our country about plans to attract more than one million tourists to Ghana by 2007. If this really happened, the quoted revenue expected would drastically change the economic situation of our country.
Knowing the fact that elections are fast approaching, I am inclined to ask, if these statements are not just propaganda? To be honest, I cannot dispel the suspicion that the current government loves to speak about things rather than do them. Remember the slogans: Positive Change, Golden Age of Business, Zero Tolerance on Corruption? Where did they all lead to? Who can claim that these aims have been achieved to any extent? Problems Whoever has been following the tourism sector in Ghana closely will readily admit that the industry is beset with many problems. Unsolved, Ghana will not achieve the results desired. Would it therefore not be appropriate to let the world at large know what is being done to eradicate some of the many problems (a lot of them self-made) facing us: expensive hotels, expensive flights, cheating but ignorant taxi drivers, untrained personnel, overburdening bureaucracy, cumbersome immigration and banking practices, non-performing airline, no professional entertainment for guests, sorry infrastructure at tourist centers, and the abysmal lack of appropriate information on the country. How can Ghana endear herself to the travel world when there are no books, maps, brochures on the market to show what we actually have to offer, and who we really are? Till now, all we hear are songs of praise about Ghana being a secret paradise full of nice people with a beautiful culture. All true. But are we content in remaining a secret? There are so many other beautiful places on the globe with just as nice people. Has it escaped attention that countries like Gambia and Senegal, with far less attractions than Ghana, attract many more visitors?
Mr. Minister, you have also not said how you want to accommodate the one million people you want to bring to Ghana. Plus, we are wondering who will transport them, whether our current personnel at Kotoka can handle the expected heavy traffic and what all these people will do when in Ghana? Any study on the expected repercussions on the Ghanaian society if one million (mainly lecherous men and women) really swoop on us? Think about what happened in Thailand, Dominican Republic, Kenya under similar circumstances.
Mr. Minister. Would it not be more realistic to first start doing some house-cleaning? We need a better located Tourist Board, a refurbishment of Cape Coast/Elmina, more road signs, multi-lingual personnel, etc. Since you are also responsible for the beautification of Accra, please prove that this is not just another sinecure. Kindly put our capital in good shape! I am sure you are aware of it: Accra is a dirty, chaotic city with little to offer. Our much cited Arts Centre is a filthy place. No museum deserves the name, there are hardly any interesting cultural events, our beaches are mostly eyesores, our nature parks harbour bored wardens and bored animals.
So Mr. Minister. As you see, there is so much to do. If you really mean what you say, then let less talk and more concrete work speak for themselves. You may not believe it, but I sincerely agree that our country has a lot to offer and could handle the million and more visitors. But never under the current circumstances. Let action speak. Quickly and soon.
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