It is a brand new year filled with opportunities for those of us in tourism albeit COVID-19 is not showing any signs of slowing down with the different variants that keep surfacing. But that should not dissuade us from going about our tourism business; especially, on the domestic front.
The last quarter of 2021 saw a remarkable resurgence of tourism activities in the country. December alone witnessed a massive exodus of tourists and visitors to the country to participate in various activities and events. And here, we applaud and laud the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Ghana Tourism Authority for the ‘December in Gh’ initiative to make Ghana the official party capital of Africa during the Christmas period.
Call it the resilience of the tourism sector or people’s nonchalance to restrictions posed by COVID-19, whatever one chooses to call it, the fact is, once their health safety can be guaranteed, tourists do not mind flooding into the country.
This provides the country and concerned authorities an opportunity to deepen health safety regulations and protocols to ensure that visitors and tourists are well protected while visiting our sites and attractions. It is the confidence and assurance they need to freely move around without recourse to feeling unsafe health-wise.
Nonetheless, the fact still remains that Ghana, like many other countries around the world is not out of the quagmire the tourism industry finds itself in as a result of COVID-19. This also means we cannot relegate conversations and actions geared towards domestic tourism to the background. This is because it remains the surest catalyst to speeding up Ghana’s tourism recovery.
To be able to this, we need also as practitioners, businesses, state agencies in tourism to be creative and innovative in drawing interest of citizens to patronize and explore the country’s sites and attractions.
We need to be more aggressive and proactive in appealing to locals in the same way we do for foreigners. Attractive packages, competitive rates and exceptional services are some of the incentives we are to be mindful of if we want to drive domestic tourism.
As the leader of the body that is primary responsible for moving tourists around, I would like to express hope that government is able to live up to its many assurances of giving tourism the much needed facelift. Chief among them, is the rehabilitation of some popular sites such as the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and the Aburi Gardens and the reopening of the National Museum.
Also, we urge government to take its interventions that seek to cushion industry players a notch higher as majority are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
We at the Tour Operators’ Union of Ghana will continue to give our support to any effort and initiative that aims to turn the fortunes of our tourism around; particularly, domestic tourism. We are keen on partnerships with sister tourism trade associations to advance this agenda.
In our own way, we are still exploring avenues and opportunities to maximize domestic tourism as we continue with our familiarization tours to attractions and sites across the country.
We are sailing on rough seas on our way to recovery and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the tourism boat does not capsize nor sink and surely we shall make a headway. 2022 is a fine opportunity for us to get tourism back on track. A happy new year of travel and tourism to us all.
The Writer, Mrs. Alisa Osei-Asamoah is the President of the Tour Operators’ Union of Ghana