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12.04.2006 Travel & Tourism

Is the General Public ready for Ghana’s tourism visions?

By Bolus, Mercy Adede

Its appears the Minister for Tourism is taking tentative steps towards

Ghana's new road map in Tourism. However, it appears certain areas still need to fully addressed.

 Yes! The Government has linked up with Malaysia, Cuba, Jamaica, Gambia etc to try and emulate the best practice and address gaps within our system?

 Is there any possibility of our Government having any open discussions about the idea of a formal training for all tour guides better still establish a college for tour guides with a recognition or accreditation plus code of conduct for them perhaps?

 The decentralisation of the Ghana Tourist Board from Tesano into every Regions, Large towns and villages. Or is this in the pipeline?

 Street management with proper signs indicating directions and leading the tourists to the right destination, arrows leading on the tourist or motorist to sharp corners and hidden dips in the middle of certain road for example the Accra- Dawhenya Road just after the Kpong Barrier.

 Sale of street maps by peddlers or street hawkers and helping tourists to plan their own journey. Encouraging tourists to be independent and mobile with minimal or no help from anyone.

 Has the Government ensured that we have cafeteria or café's in every town and villages instead of food being sold expose to dirt and bacteria? This is also a form job creation anyway.

 In an ideal world, every town or village should have lots of cafés, a bank, a chemist, lots of pubs or drinking bars, any business but in an enclosed area, fried plantain chips, banku and fish, or chips in the form of yam chips, potato, or fried plantain. This idea could be a group owned food-shopping centre with car parks.

 Parks for children with swings see saws to play, adult to go for evening walks and enjoy nature. The public could be encouraged to donate benches in the memory for loved ones at National parks etc.

 Creation of proper garden centres not roadside garden spots etc. Also bike repairs shops and bike hire shops for the tourists to hire and ride at a given charge, particularly in the villages or the countryside.

 Encourage communities to have meetings quarterly and discuss issues and bring their concerns to the Minister for Tourism regarding any opportunity for tourism in their areas that could be exploited?

 Solving of Ghana's lack of proper sanitation problems. This is why it is vital for any Government that takes over power to continue from where the previous have left. After all a change of Government to a layman on our streets it just an exercise of changing the baton with a different brand name not the national objectives set.

 Creation of martinee for Koliko shows at an hour intervals in most villages and towns to revive that trade and heritage

 Creation of a replica of mini Aburi gardens in every town with the community's input.

 Creation of mini Opera at Theatre as Ghana has people with valuable voice waiting to be captured and used to increase our profile on that market

 Sports promotional activities for tourists for example tennis playing, golf, and fishing with rental equipment's for a day's hire

 The late Dr Busia initiated an effective sewage system and hence the digging up of the whole of Accra took off. What happen after he was over thrown from power? A total halt after a change of Government. This is why we are still suffering and Ghana still lack proper sanitation system in the whole country; any subsequent Governments did not follow up this vision.

 Government needs to realise that being in Government is not a permanent position as it when one is building one's own house. It is only a transient position.

 Is the general public prepared for this wonderful opportunity in the offering?

 What are the opportunities then one may ask?

 Bed and breakfast opportunities, hostels for students with limited cash to spend posh hotels for those who could afford motels at reasonable price. The tourists would love to live with us rather than hotels because the genuine ones want to know more about us, as we would also like to know about them.

 Do could spot a genuine tourist? The Government could include in the tourist package that every tourist may need to be police checked if possible, ideally from their country of origin before entering Ghana. Documentation could be check at our airports particularly those who Embassy's might have a suspicion before they enter our country.

 Such an exercise may exclude the paedophiles and allow only genuine tourists into our country. Ghana should not take people for granted because many might have a hidden agenda. However, other people could brainstorm this area as I don't have answers just an idea about how we could address this issue.

 Introduction of Museum in every Major Cities, Town and villages.

 All living families from every Town or villages could bring pictures of their past relations showing off thus past glory of their town. Tourists see Ghana as a poor Ghana as they don't know about the rich history we do have. After all, Ghana was on equal power as most country in the 1960's. We, the living Ghanaians should not disappoint our ancestors. Well, wedding photos, activities, cultural heritage, festivals, interaction with the early foreigners in the towns' etc. Dig deep and everyone would come out with hidden treasure to share to the whole wide world. It would be worth charging an entrance fees for the Museums. Ghanaians in Diaspora please do visit museums where you are and see how the area where you originally come from would benefit such activity.

 Sale of post cards, e.g. fufu pounding, fishing, crab catching, the sale of sale by roadside. Palm wine tapping, a typical market day in Accra, Kumasi etc, pictures taken during festivals, outdooring of chief, pictures of our chiefs and his kinsmen, court yard of Palaces, etc. The more we have photos of these kind on post cards the more people would love to come to Ghana too the beauty we have but take for granted.

 Opportunities for Art and Craft, pottery business with labels of where it is being made and year.

 Creation of workshops at every town or villages to give the tourist a taster experience of our way of life through kente weaving. Also Ghanaian way of cooking, mat weaving, cultural heritage i.e. mock installing of a chief, wearing of our clothing, going to the market and shopping for the family meal. This would be ideal for the villages not cities and giving the tourists the opportunity to cook and serve their family or friends.

 Every Ghanaian is responsible for the promotion of tourism not only the Minister of Tourism. Ghanaians must not sell us short by blaming any Government. We all need to work in partnership with them openly through sharing of ideas.

 Ghanaians should try and be positive and proactive even whether one have running water or not there are other means to get thereby in life. No excuses and victim blaming but we must be motivated as to how we could turn our under development into cash cow in marketing with limited resources.

 Engage the tourists in farming e.g. cocoa farming, onion farming, tomato etc. Integrate them and encourage them to participate. Tickets for such activities could be from information centres when we have one at every town so that the tourists know that they are in safe hands when they go with people.

 All tourists' information centres need to have registrations of all tour guides in a given area and booking should be done from the office to ensure safety and accountability. Tour guide should be encouraged to pay a discount for the each tourist they take from the information centre. These monies could be used for the development of the community in the way of building proper toilet facilities not relying on the Government for everything. This would give a town self-financing initiatives to any development they want.

 Minister for Tourism need to integrate the Chiefs, Church leaders, the Police, Traders, Business communities, School Principles, group leaders, etc and have open forum to brain storm what they would ideally want to do to help out. Ministers of Tourism please don't go it alone.

 Challenge for all communities perhaps, engage them in tree planting exercise to beautify and hide any nasty scenery, and encourage the creation of beautiful parks. The Government need to encourage people in any area to channel all rain water into water tanks or underground tanks so ensure a 24/7 water supply, public facilities with an attendants. This could be to get free water for watering plants and others uses such flushing of toilets.

 Conservation of sewage water could be channelled into fertilisers for crops or plants. The Swedish and other developed countries are using this method.

 Kitchen wastewater could be channelled into soak away system and used for watering of plants in the gardens through a pumping system. One needs to get an experienced plumber to set such a system going.

 The hiring of deck chairs at sea side could create jobs for the old folks. New ideas like the construction of huts or Xmas huts as we know this around most seaside or permanent huts built with bricks, or mini summer for hire by tourists for barbecues or place for rest would generate income.

 Have picnic areas for hire at 2-5 hours at given rates depending on the environment where the picnic bench and table are situated.

 Ghanaians need to be smarter at doing business whilst maintaining our dignity, pride and hospitality in making our guest feel at home.

 Nothing is free expect air as most of our people give the little treasure they have got for free to any foreign who pops their face to say hello.

 Laughing unnecessary does not generate any income is the strategy we use.

 Challenge for communities! The creation of create mini round abouts in towns and villages if only communites, are able to work in partnership with High way Authorities. Thus creating many mini round abouts using natural resources available in the areas. For example, if there are shingles in the area , pebble stones or granite to form as part of transforming the beauty of round about.

 Ghanaians in Diaspora please do explore garden centres and stately building and emulate ideas to take home enhance the beauty of our country.

 In Ghana we lack monuments of great leaders in the Regions or Town where they were born. Having bronze sculptures of great people would also bring tourists into a given Town or Villages. Let us exploit such areas of neglect to attract more tourists in.

 Town and villages must entice the tourists with activity or a place of interest to ensure a must see village or town. This would ensure and secure more tourists however this would be a community decision. Every town or villages have a great person who has passed away but we fail to acknowledge their contributions for the community annually.

 It might be worth, if the Government does introduce a four-week marketing programme for the general public to attend at a small fee just to entice many people including street hawkers. It should be tailored to their level of education. Better still in the language people feel most comfortable so that the message is delivered across the board.

 The Government Must aim at the most vulnerable in our society and target them. Thus empowering them with these new skills such as marketing techniques, ICT, Customer services tactics etc ready for when the real business i.e. Tourism when arrives at their door step. Many people don't know how to charge the tourists and assume the tourist would give them money even without asking.

 The Government could have a mob up sessions of free ICT lesson for everyone in every region to ensure that community access this opportunity as people will not be willing to attend computer lessons when they can not afford to fend for themselves. We need in-corporate articles written about job creations particularly an article on this subject on the 27th January 2006 and others.

 Our Government needs to embrace such contributions and include them within their strategic planning of long term visions. Ghanaians in Diaspora have done this research and are offering this on the Internet free of charge. Sincere thanks goes to Francis Akoto for making this possible.

 Ghanaians must know that, if one do not ask, you do not get particularly if one have given someone a service. It is better to bargain a price than for a service than to assume that money would be given as a gift. It should be highlighted and the general public may need to made aware that it is not a gift, if money paid for service delivered dutifully. Nothing is free in this world. Please do check this out on the Internet.

 Many Ghanaians in general do give money naturally to people we feel are less fortunate because we are aware of the difficulty within the country and try to help. However, the tourist may see things from a different perspectives and may not recognise certain service have to be paid for even it is not asked for. Please don't let us make this mistake. We need to educate our people through the media i.e. radios etc to for their services rather than waiting to be given something.

 Creation of self worth and self-esteem through radio education, encouragement of further education for adult and dropouts. Night school education. We need to continue with the vision of our late President Kwame Nkrumah's in pulling the nation together through education and the right skills and capabilities for the future.

 Ghanaians must try to be ourselves but just act in a professional at all times when among foreigners as that is what they take home with them afterwards and we need to pass this on to the youth. This is the norm is every country.

 No one should be left out to feel isolated in this new industry. It needs to be inclusive not exclusive in the slogan for success.

 There is nothing for free in the developed world one could try but if you are lucky.

 It is better if the whole community grow up to such wealth than a minority because this is when poverty could hit every home and the entire country so easily.

 As this article depicts no region could say they don't have water or other facilities, the usual excuse Ghanaians have, it is a community co-operation and encouragement from those of us in Diaspora is all that is needed to help the Government to take this tourism initiative off the grounds.

 We are all part of the Ghana Government even though we are not officially paid as politicians, whether in Diaspora or not. Hence clubbing together must be the ethos of our goal not any given political party.

 It is based on all these synergy that Ghana would have a thriving growth in Tourism to boost our under exploited areas of tourism.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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