As we celebrate World Tourism today with great interest by tourism organizations, government agencies, and individuals on the theme ‘’ Tourism and Rural Development ‘’, I would like to share my thoughts on this all-important occasion and the theme set for it.
Countries across the world are dependents on tourism like never before to drive recovery after bearing a heavy blow on their economy due to Covid-19 pandemic.
But as we celebrate the occasion with conscious awareness to drive home domestic tourism before international tourism, let us consider the following;
1. The Image of Our Tour Site:
The character of our attraction sites is crucial to tourist participation. The environmental safety, friendliness of the people all add up to attract visitors or not. Therefore, the quality of the attraction will determine whether or not to tourist should visit the site. We need to develop our local tourism market through branding and positioning to make it attractive. We need to add value to our museums, heritage sites etc. so that tourist will keep coming.
The brand promise needs to be clear and consistent to influence local consumption.
2. The Price of Our Domestic Tour Products:
Pricing is one of the most important elements in the tourism marketing mix. Tourism customers rate the product at a price but the right price must satisfy both the tourist and meet the profit objectives of the tourism business.
The government of Ghana needs to review taxes and levies of the tourism products to make it affordable for local consumption.The rate of a 3-star hotel in Accra for a night stay cannot easily be consumed by and average middle-income worker. Hotels are paying 17.5% VAT, 1% tourism levy coupled with statutory payments such as SSNIT, Tier 1 and 2, income tax etc.The cost of operating a hotel accommodation is very expensive, thereby business operators pass on the cost to the price of their product. This makes it very expensive for local consumers.
3. Training and Development:
The tourism sector enjoins various industries from Transport, Aviation, Agriculture, Catering, Food and Beverage, Accommodation, Drivers, Creative Arts, Fashion etc. There should be regular training programs for both skilled and unskilled artisans in the tourism business to improve the outcomes of their business operation.
4. Cultural Preservation:
Cultural assets must be preserved by engaging local youth who resides in the towns and villages of our major tourism destinations.The capacity of the community to preserving their cultural heritage will boost tourist arrivals domestically.Building the capacity of the communities around cultural and heritage will significantly enhance the sustainability of preservation. There must be dialogue between residents and visitors to better understand the cultural values of the community.
Thirty years ago, tourism in Ghana was literally at a standstill, largely due to political instability and problems with shortages of even basic commodities.Tourism in Ghana has grown significantly as the largest employer in the informal sector after Agriculture, Trade and Industry.Ghana’s tourism comes from the impact of our Food, Culture and Heritages, Creative Arts, Festival ceremonies, Beach Resorts, Hotels etc.
It is significant to note that tourism is major economic activity as an agent of change, a social enabler and a major income generating program for social progress.The success and sustainability of Local Tourism and Development shall always hinge on Management cooperation with all stakeholders. A shared vision, willingness to work together to achieve stated goals through work delivery via evaluations and measurable results is very key.
‘’ Happy World Tourism Day 2020 ‘’
Author: Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey (Abeiku Santana) CEO of Kaya Tours, Media Personality, and Social Media Influencer. Follow him here