Tourism involves people traveling for leisure and residing in places outside their normal environment. Other people travel for business and other purposes for certain periods of time.
Just like any other business, tourism is a business that goes beyond just entertainment and events. Entertainment and events are the primary sources of income for this industry, and therefore many people tend to think that they are the only tourism components. Depending on the tourist attractions available in Ghana, the country can perform better than any other African nation and even grow. Ghana has not yet fully explored tourism as a business, and therefore most people are not aware of what the tourism industry covers.
Most African countries seem to understand the importance of tourism, and so far, they are benefiting so much from this industry. Their economies are growing each day because of their good understanding of the industry and its contribution to wealth generation, employment creation, and diversification of the economies.
Ghana has not yet developed a strong tourism culture, and the government does not seem to provide sufficient assistance and consideration to this sector. Ghana Tourism Federation, the umbrella body for all tourism trade associations, has so far outlived its significance in the tourism industry. Currently, the Federation is just a name that no longer has any impact on tourism. It is so disorganized, and it is no longer strong enough to deliver as required.
Some of the private businesses in the tourism sector aim at making a profit without necessarily marketing the other tourism businesses. Most private businesses don’t focus on domestic tourism; they are only concerned about themselves because Ghanaian tourism does not assure any good returns for the businesses.
The government is not fully committed to seeing the tourism sector as a critical and significant economic sector that demands serious attention. The yearly budget allocation to the tourism sector suggests that this is a neglected sector by the government, and it understands its potential. There has been no clear enacted strategy to improve the general performance of the tourism industry over a given period of time. All the things that have been done to boost tourism seem to be usual ones, and in the end, all the industry gets the same results.
Some organizations have tried to finance this sector to conduct specific programs that can improve their performance, but they end up being disappointed. Some of the programs that have been conducted so far include product development, marketing, and training but the performance still remains the same. No one can tell if the programs are carried out or the number of people who benefit from the program because the media does not report anything.
Most tourist attractions sites are not well managed, and the managers and tour guides in these sites indicate unsophisticated ignorance of appropriate information and history of such sites; therefore, tourists end up being disappointed. Tourists’ attraction sites such as the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and major roads leading to other tourist attractions have been in poor condition for a long time. The government does not understand this because they don’t consider tourism a business.
The guide that a tourist meets determines how they perceive such sites at a personal level, so if they meet a guide who is not knowledgeable, they end up getting a wrong picture about that site. Service delivery in this industry remains a big challenge. This might disappoint many and discourage them from visiting again or even recommending the site to their friends or family. This can only be solved by ensuring that tourists receive standard information regardless of the guide they encounter.
Ghana should start to take the tourism industry as a business and work on improving its performance and maximizing its opportunities internationally. They can organize an annual tourism exhibition to encourage customers and exhibitors to take the tourism business seriously.