As children, I am pretty sure we all went on one excursion or another. Whether it was a children’s service trip to Mt. Afadjato, a Red Cross Association trip to The Kakum National park or even a Wildlife Club journey to The Cape Coast Castle, we had the experience of our lives. Sight seeing and learning about the history of these places brought us so much joy. Fast forward some 20 years later, and the enthusiasm with which we embraced tourism is either very low or completely extinct. The admirable cliche that ‘’Ghana is rich with natural and human resources’’ seems to be that iota of hope remaining for us. Yes, it’s true that we have a wealth of natural resources and massive potential in tourism but why are we not tapping into these? What stops us from becoming as popular a tourist destination as Nairobi, Cairo or Johannesburg? Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online travel agency takes an introspective look into a few steps to maximize Ghana’s tourism potential.
Build an attractive ‘’Product’’ – In order to successfully sell a product or service, you need to build a very good and attractive brand. There is absolutely no way you can market a bad product and expect good returns. In a bid to maximize the potential of Ghana’s tourism industry, it is imperative that we build an attractive product. Aside the natural sites like the Boti and Kintampo waterfalls, the game reserves and Monkey Sanctuaries which are popular, there are other man made sites and monuments that are not even known by some Ghanaians. Even at the popular sites, the state of these places and the monuments or facilities there are nothing to write home about. For example, a trip to Kakum National park should be a complete experience for any tourist who travels so many miles to Ghana. It should be a complete package. Aside the canopy walkway, the umbrella walk and the amazing stories that accompany these sites, there should be add-on facilities that make guests and tourists feel at home. Comfortable modern accommodation with good internet access, a good restaurant & bar, a clinic and reliable security should be enough to make any guest feel at home and spend days at one tourist site exploring and enjoying the experience. When these tourist sites are made attractive, then we can move on to the next step while still getting closer to achieving the ultimate goal.
Be sustainable – After building an attractive brand/product comes the next stage. A stage that is very difficult for many African countries. Ghana especially has this long standing challenge of being sustainable. Often, we are able to start good projects but after a few years, these projects wither or die down because strategies are not put in place to ensure the smooth running and longevity of the project. In order for us to reach our tourism potential, it is very important to cultivate and maintain a very high sustainability culture. The tourist sites we build should be well maintained and managed. The personnel who man these sites need proper training and laws must be enforced to ensure high standards are met. In the end, it is actually cost effective to keep a tourist site running for many years through proper management and maintenance than to shut it down and build a new one only a few years after it is opened. The world keeps evolving and to be able to keep up to speed with the ever changing trends, the stakeholders and players in our tourism industry need regular training workshops and seminars to learn and better understand new technologies, trends and challenges. The more we keep our industry running, the better our chances of improvement and earning bigger revenue to further develop.
Market – Many people claim that this is the most important stage of the process. To a very large extent, it may be. However, all the other steps are equally important and they can’t work in isolation. Marketing involves the showcase of a product or service and the process of convincing a potential buyer or user of your service or product. In this case, we have an obligation to show the outside world what beauty and tradition this country bestows and give them many reasons why they should consider a trip to Ghana. One very important element that cannot be overlooked is the fact that if we have a good, attractive and well sustained industry, investors and will automatically jump at the opportunities here. The industry will boom and tourists from all walks of life will find a dozen reasons to visit and experience Ghana. Also, we have an obligation after successfully completing the first two stages of this 3-fold ladder to use all means possible to show the world what we have. With tools such as social media and ecommerce now very widespread, it has become somewhat easy to reach millions of people with just one post or a few clicks. We live in a world where people spend more time on social media than on actual work and when they need anything, they would rather go online than ask the person next to them. That is the power of social media. Once we are confident of the goodness and attractiveness of our industry, we can now begin to market it and get more tourists into our country.