Tourism is the fastest developing enterprise in Africa and currently one of the continent’s major investment opportunities, viewing its 6% growth rate for the last decennium. Africa receives 4.8% of all tourist arrivals in the world, and 3.3% of the receipts and although it is not at the heart of the global tourist market, this modest proportion of the world’s number one industry is still important for the continent. Global tourist dynamics do depend on the situation in the developed world, but less on the situation in financial markets. Though tourists’ choice of international destination is often fickle and fleeting, a clear pattern has emerged for Africa: just one third of tourists go to the Maghreb countries, over a third to Southern Africa, almost a quarter to East Africa, and the remainder are spread over the rest of the continent, but mainly West Africa.
In UNWTO’s latest midyear report for tourism and future projections, Africa is (+7%), the return of tourist flows to Tunisia is reflected in the results of North Africa (+11%). Likewise, the rebound of Egypt is clearly mirrored in the results of the Middle-East (+0.7%). Destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa (+6%) continued to show strong results, following the good growth rates of this sub-region in previous years.
For a long time, tourism has been a non-issue for the development establishment. On the one hand it sometimes was viewed as an example of neo-colonialism, on the other strictly a matter of private business. The picture of the rich western tourist gallivanting on the plains of East Africa, taking photos of well-kept wild animals while people were starving on the roadside, was not encouraging. Recently this has changed; after all, tourism has been shown to be a major source of jobs and revenue for local people, so it does, in fact, have development potential. Also most African countries want to develop their tourist industry, considering it a welcome source of income, even if some have inflated notions of future revenues.
ABOUT GHANA’S TOURISM
Tourism in Ghana in the last decade has played a significant role in the development agenda of the country. Up until the discovery of oil in commercial quantities, the tourism sector was making great strides in the economic activities of Ghana. Fortunately the oil and gas industry has made some key strides in the tourism sector as well. It has seen the upsurge in business travel which ultimately has a direct impact on tourism.
On the international level, Ghana is well positioned as a safe country and good destination for those who want to visit Africa for the first time.
The Ghana Tourism Authority is the main regulatory body for the tourism sector. It was established by Tourism Act, 2011 (Act 817) as the main implementing body of the Ministry of Tourism. It replaced the Ghana Tourist Board which was established by NRCD 224 in 1973 as amended by SMCD 80 of 1977.
The mission of the Ghana Tourism Authority is to ensure sustainable tourism development through the creation of an enabling environment for the provision of quality tourism facilities and services for the traveling public with a well-qualified, highly motivated and dedicated work force and thereby promoting tourism to become the leading sector of the economy.
The vision of the GTA is to see Ghana become the TOURISM CAPITAL of West Africa, especially in culture, heritage, and ecotourism as well as conference tourism in a quality non-mass manner.
In this vain, the Authority has put in place mechanisms and structures to improve the infrastructural base in the sector. The ancillary services are to be upgraded to give tourists and the public a value for money.
With its traditional warmth and friendly people, the West African state of Ghana welcomes people from all walks of life to its shores. Ghana is endowed with rich and diverse tourism attractions; beaches, forts, culture, history, wildlife and many more.
The origin of Ghana’s international visitors is diverse, but the main markets are the United States of America, Europe and the Sub Saharan Africa.
The tourist from the Americas mostly visit Ghana as descendants from abroad on a pilgrimage home, as to a large extent, the population of the Americas especially the U.S.A are made up of the African-Americans. A torching, inspiring and evolutional trip these tours turn out to be, hence the return of most tourist and also sometimes, by their word of mouth, they entice others to join. The importance of the relationship between Ghana and USA can be seen in the number of flights coming to Ghana from the US. During 2010, Delta Airlines introduced a non-stop flight from Atlanta to Accra. Currently three major US cities are linked directly to Accra: New York, Atlanta and Washington DC.
With the Europeans, besides similarities in occasional timelines, we have a tall history of slave and barter trade to share as the British were once Ghana’s colonial masters. Hence, most of the country’s history trace to them as theirs also trace to us. Speak of colonial era governors like Sir Charles McCarthy and likes. This is the tides that direct or indirectly binds us. These tides mostly make our European tourists want to visit the country besides other reasons.
Whiles the African tourists are captured under visiting friends and relations(VFR) category are mainly the people who have been away from home for a long time and might have gotten the opportunity to come back. Within the sub Sahara region, Ghana is viewed as the honeymoon to cool off. They normally visit their families and look for business opportunities to enable them to stay closer to their families and home.
In the light of all of these, it is evident that Ghana surely has a large range of tourist with various reasons of visits. With range of reasons to visits Ghana, comes the importance to satisfy if not all some of the most basic needs up to the sophisticated ones. This is the scent of sweet outstanding business opportunities in the country. To make use of the abundance of human and natural resources as well as keeping the tide that brought the tourist to the country.
In terms of purpose of visit, the majority of visitors to Ghana tend to be business travelers and those visiting friends and relatives (VFRs).As of 2010, the tourist arrivals were 931,224 out of which 23% are all business travelers. Business tourism is seen as an important niche market, and it certainly is one of the sophisticated groups of visitors. To that extent the infrastructural base and service sector has seen some level of improvement. A wide range of products and infrastructure has been developed. But despite the richness of the tourist product, there is still great potential for further enhancement and development especially as Takoradi emerges as the commercial and oil capital of Ghana.
Ghana’s tourism potential/resources cut across from ecotourism, historical, wildlife and its pristine beaches.
Talk of a haven in the west coast of Ghana, the cliché the best is from the west. Places like the Busua beach, cape coast castle, kakum National park and the Amasuri wetland; the Nzulezo silt village amongst others come to play in the minds of tourists and visitors alike.