The current state of tourism in Ghana, how are we doing?

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Ever thought of the impact of the activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited?

Around the world, tourism is a big deal which is gradually catching up with us on the continent. Yes, some countries have taken the lead and are enjoying the benefits whilst others have started a vigorous drive for strategic positioning.

Tourism resources in Ghana are immense and diverse. The country has natural, historical, cultural and other man-made attractions in addition to its central location on the world map, making it accessible. Ghana is politically and economically stable, making it a destination of choice.

In Ghana, there is a lot of movement and tourism has become an important sector for policy makers and key stakeholders as an area of priority. The tourism industry has contributed significantly to the country’s economy, particularly in recent times, as the sector continues to demonstrate its potential as a key driver of growth.

Visitor arrivals and spending increased continue to increase astronomical in recent years leading to the industry becoming the third largest foreign exchange earner after merchandise exports and remittances from abroad.

In addition, tourism has become one of the most important and fastest growing sectors of the Ghanaian economy. This has led to the Government of Ghana earmarking the sector as a major potential source of foreign exchange, which needs to be tapped.

Patrick Ofori is an industry professional who believes in the potential of the tourism sector and is convinced the sector stands the chance of becoming the country’s leading contributor to the gross domestic product.

A graduate of the University of Cape Coast with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management, Patrick is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Accra City campus.

Patrick has held managerial roles in hospitality management for the last seven years and has had several, local and abroad. He is currently the Manager of Premier Beach Resort located in Kokrobite, a role he has held from 2019. Prior to joining Premier Beach Resort, he worked with De-Mod Hotel as Manager. He previously worked with the Ghana Tourism Authority as Quality Assurance Officer & Tourism Plant Inspector and M’plaza Hotel as Supervisor.

Over the weekend, we had an interesting conversation on the state of tourism in Ghana with focus on hospitality management. Patrick defined tourism as a competitive industry that requires a good mix of attractions and support facilities to thrive, leading to a sustainable and vibrant industry.

He explained that it is important to place premium on the facilities and services required to meet the needs of tourists including accommodation services; food and beverage services; transportation, services by travel agents, tour operators, and tourist guides; recreation and entertainment services such as the performing arts, museums, botanical and zoological gardens, nature reserves and wildlife preservation services.

“This will not be complete without looking at popular as well as little known and alternative sporting activities like golf and race circuits, recreational parks and beaches, amusement park services, carnivals and casino services; and other miscellaneous services such as banking and insurance services, rental and leasing services, trade fairs and exhibitions, spa services, and tourist information services and others”, he added.

On accommodation, Patrick indicated that accommodation is an essential component of tourism since it involves a stay away from home. “Accommodation services must be wide-ranging and beyond the luxury hotels, we need to look at other income brackets and provide motel lodging services, letting services of furnished accommodation, youth hostel services, children’s training and holiday camp services, camping and caravanning site services, sleeping car and similar services”, he highlighted.

In recent times, there has been several initiatives by the government of Ghana and industry stakeholders to help grow the industry and develop the capacity of industry players at various levels. We have seen the results and the overwhelming benefits which has shaped certain key governments policies and programmes.

According to Patrick, Tourism development should be a public-private endeavour that will enable both public and private sectors to plan and execute projects together for their mutual benefit and the development of the tourism sector.

Despite the positive impact of the tourism sector in the country, the industry faces some challenges that can result in its downfalls when not addressed. The sector’s key challenges include travel marketing, taxation, infrastructure, security, and border protocols.

Another is the seasonality of the Hospitality industry which seems to affect cash flow and effective operations all year round.  Peak seasons in the tourism industry bring lots of revenue and obtain many businesses. The off-peak has no business, and therefore the sector ends up making losses.

Also, some tourist sites are not fully developed and prepared to receive tourists. Therefore, tourists end up not being satisfied after visiting such sites which is quite worrying. Additionally, the tourism industry faces fluctuating charges and high price charges.

To strengthen the sector, Patrick made an appeal to the government to review the current taxes imposed on the sector and its players. “The tourism industry is among the highly taxed industries in Ghana. The significant taxes in this sector include service tax, luxury tax, transportation tax, and aviation fuel tax. Some taxes are charged in various departments of the industry such as the transport sector, tour operators, airline industry and hotels”, he emphasized.

By ALICE SENAM NIMOH-APPEA (Creative Writer & Multimedia Production Specialist)

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