How Ghana is wooing the rest of the world with tourism
The West African nation of Ghana, once known for its gold, is looking to other natural assets to attract the world to its coast.
In the past few years, there’s been an attempt by successive Ghanaian governments to make the country become a centre for sub-regional travel and hospitality in order to bring international tourism and business to its verdant shores. And the world is already coming.
Ghana, a major hub for transatlantic slave between the 16th and the 19th century, has several historical ties with America.
The inaugural edition of the Full Circle Festival which took place in December 2018, was organised by the Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo through the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Business Development and the Office of Diaspora Affairs while the event was coordinated by Marketing expert Bozoma Saint John and Hollywood actor Boris Kodjoe.
This year, the country came 4th out of 19 countries on CNN’s list of top places to visit in 2019. Apart from this major achievement, there has been massive infrastructure projects, digital skills training for millions of people alongside substantial investments in the startup ecosystem.
What’s more, Google is setting up it’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Accra which reflects an economic progression. As expectations grow for stakeholders, Ghana is very optimistic about using its initiative to attract half a million tourists, with at least 350,000 from North America and Europe as predicted by the Ghana Tourism Authority.
Just 45 minutes away, Ghana’s neighbour, Nigeria, is struggling to realise its tourism potential while it is still battling an economic downturn. As Africa’s largest country by population and most gifted in natural and human resources, Nigeria is yet to develop a national tourism policy that will attract the world to her shores.
Although the country’s tourism industry had it wings high in some parts of the country including Cross River State, where the government set things in motion with various tourism initiatives that gave birth to the popular “Calabar Carnival,” much has not been happening even with that. At its peak, most tourists from across the globe did testify to amusing moments in places such as the Obudu Mountain Resort, Tinapa Business Resort, Calabar Marina, Calabar Residency Museum, Calabar Slave Park amongst others.
Other than that, nothing much has been happening to draw the needed resources to the country’s tourism potentials.
Apart from the exhilarating feeling gotten by visitors at tourist sites, people also tend to take tourist items with them for the purpose of buying and selling, such that economic values are added to indigenous products (hand made or not) especially when they are promoted on a more elaborate platform abroad.
Viola Labi, a first generation Canadian-Ghanaian, who has been visiting Ghana frequently is one of the tourists who has tapped into Ghana’s evolving tourism and business market. On one of her trips, she discovered some women weaving textiles on the side of the road in the town of Tamale, Ghana. As Labi continued to share the work of Ghanaian artisans on Instagram, messages started to come in from both friends and strangers, asking if they could pay for the items. It soon dawned on her that it was an opportunity to encourage the women.
Ghana wants its citizens in the diaspora to return home in 2019. The Full Circle Festival has become a good vehicle with which to draw in tourists whilst improving tourist sites and the creative arts. The Full Circle Festival program has been drawn up to accommodate line ups such as Family Day outing, workshops, fundraising dinner, storytelling, Ghana Culture day for children, Ghanaian naming ceremony, mountain climbing, roundtable discussions, stage plays and interactive sessions as worldwide advertising continues through hypes done by celebrities on their social media accounts.
It has been 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America but can the impact of the Slave Trade be completely overlooked? Many are optimistic about this journey of enlightenment and conscious steps to bring awareness to the continent using tourism. Ghana appears to be leading the charge in West Africa by making the country the hotspot for Afro-Americans, Caribbean and visitors from other parts of the continent. The world is seeing a beautiful coast, Ghana is seeing millions of dollars.
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