Despite its enormous potential of becoming a leading foreign exchange earner for the country, Ghana’s tourism industry continues to face huge challenges that stifle growth and expansion.
Ghana currently is ranked 21st in Africa and 120th on the global stage in the latest Global Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which measures the most competitive, travel and tourism destinations. In Africa, countries such as Kenya Gambia and, Senegal are highly preferred tourist destinations compared to Ghana. The total contribution of Kenya’s tourism industry to its GDP is above 12 percent, raking in millions of dollars for the country.
Currently, available statistics in Ghana indicates that Travel and Tourism contributed 1.18 billion dollars representing 3 percent of the GDP in 2016.
This has been described as inadequate considering the many exciting tourist destinations in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer, of the Ghana Tourism Authority Akwasi Agyeman, believes the trend is about to change. According to him, the decision of the Nana Addo government to include tourism in the list of cabinet ministers is a manifestation of the president’s desire to grow the industry.
The Travel & Tourism industry is capable of being at the forefront of creating millions of direct and indirect jobs for the nation’s teeming unemployed youth. However, the industry is said to have generated just about 288,000 direct jobs in 2016. Forecast for this year indicates a rather small growth of 4.7%.But some observers believe there must be a conscious effort to grow domestic tourism before attracting external visitors.
During her appearance at the Appointment’s Committee of Parliament earlier this year, the Minister for Tourism, Art and Culture, Catherine Afeku praised Citi FM’s Heritage Caravan and promised to use a similar model to expand patronage of domestic tourism.
“Citi FM is doing a great work with the Heritage Caravan. I think it is good thing and one of the best ways to promote domestic tourism,” she said.
Interestingly, domestic travel spending generated 56.7% of direct Travel & Tourism to the GDP in 2016 compared with 43.3% for visitor exports, which is foreign visitors spending or international tourism receipts over the same period.
According to online hotel booking company, JUMIA, the figure is expected to grow by 5.4% in 2017.
Ghana has many interesting tourist sites which include the Kakum National Park, Mole National Park, Nzulezu Village which is on stilt, and Mountain Afadjato among others. Despite these obviously interesting sites, one key factor to the growth of tourism is the hospitality industry.
Hotels in Ghana are regarded as very expensive even though some offer below standard services.
Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager of JUMIA, Bennet Otoo explains that bad road networks, coupled with poor service delivery are a disincentive to the industry.
Stakeholders in the hospitality industry have blamed the situation on numerous charges slapped on hoteliers.
The Deputy Operations Director of Ghana Tourism Authority Ekwow Sampson bemoans the growing charges slapped on hoteliers as a setback to the industry.
Even though these challenges are militating against the growth of the industry, perhaps the biggest blow was witnessed some few weeks ago when some students who have gone to the Kintampo waterfalls met their untimely death.
If the industry is expected to grow, then there is the need for a proper management team at tourist sites to forestall such accidents.
By: Lawrence Segbefia/Zoe Abu-Baidoo/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana