GHANA’S TOURISM SECTOR IS PLAYING INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE COUNTRY’S DEVELOPMENT, CONTRIBUTING TO BOTH ECONOMIC GROWTH AND JOB CREATION.
According to the World Economic Forum’s “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019, “Ghana has signigicant opportunity to build competitiveness through its history, culture and abundance of natural sites, raising the country’s international profile as a tourism destination.
Tourism provides a significant source of foreign exchange in Ghana, contributing to the government’s tax revenue, economic growth and job opportunities. The Bank of Ghana lists the tourism sector as the fourth highest currency earner behind gold, cocoa, and remittances to Ghana. The sector has significant potential to drive economic growth and job creation.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the sector accounted for 4.9 per cent of GDP in 2018, making it the fourth-largest contributor after cocoa, gold and oil. Tourism supported 602,425 direct and indirect jobs that year, up 10 per cent compared to 2017, when the sector employed 550,000 people. The National Tourism Development Plan (2013– 2027) led by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts highlights the tourism
and hospitality sector’s role as a major driver of the Ghanaian economy. The government is committed to increasing infrastructure investments in Ghana’s tourism sector to boost both the number of tourist arrivals and the net spend per tourist in Ghana.
In 2019, tourism in Ghana saw a tremendous boost through the “Year of Return” campaign which marked the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded enslaved Africans in Jamestown Virginia in 1619. The landmark campaign also celebrated the resilience of the African over the past 400 years
and welcomed all people of African origin to return to Africa especially Ghana. The campaign resulted in an 18 per cent year on-year increase in international
arrivals from the Americas, Great Britain, the Caribbean and other key target countries. Total arrivals increased by 45 per cent compared to the previous year. Estimated average spends increased from USD1, 862 in 2017 to USD2, 589 in 2019.
The follow-up campaign, “Beyond the Return,” was however affected by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. International arrivals declined from 1,130,307 in 2019 to 355,108 in 2020, a drop of around 68 per cent, which was 6 per cent less than the World Tourism Organisation’s forecast of 74 per cent. Tourism receipts, on the other hand, fell from USD 3,312.9 million to USD 387.1 million in 2020, representing an 88 percentage drop.
Ghana offers different types of recreational activities, including hiking which features spectacular experiences such as the hike to Wli Falls, biking which features trails through the Shai Hills Game Reserve. Water sports including jet skiing and surfing as is available at the Busua Beach Resort and Lou-Moon (Axim) and paragliding on the Kwahu plateau, which is mostly at its peak during the Easter (usually April) and celebrated annually as a Paragliding Festival flying hundreds of visitors during a 3-4 day event at Kwahu Atibie. Growing forms of tourism in Ghana include adventure tourism, ecotourism, and arts tourism. Ghana’s all year-round tropical climate, along with its wildlife, exotic water resources, beautiful sceneries, pristine beaches, bustling nightlife and rich historical and cultural heritage make it a favourite spot for tourists arriving from Europe, the Americas and Asia and other parts of the globe.
Ghana’s tourism products face little or no competition in the African region due to its uniqueness and diversity. The slave forts, numbering over forty and dotted across the coast are the most significant slave forts in West Africa. This has transformed Ghana into a destination of choice for the Diaspora seeking to know their roots. Ghana also ranked 15th on the 2019 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index which measures the factors and policies that make a country a viable place to invest within the Travel and Tourism sector. In 2019, CNN named Ghana as the next big tourism destination. The country is considered to be one of the friendliest countries in the world for travellers and locals are always happy to welcome visitors and help them enjoy their stay.
In April, 2022, Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo launched “Destination Ghana” in London. The ambitious campaign aims to exponentially increase visits to the country by emphasising its attractions as a centre of adventure, cultural experiences, entertainment and ecotourism. The eighteen-month campaign, targeted at the United Kingdom and European travel markets, will direct attention of the global community to Ghana’s tourism potential and its resilience in the wake of Covid-19, as the pandemic recedes and travellers spread out in search of fun and leisure again.
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Ghana Tourism Authority, the launch event provided a Taste of Ghana to patrons and highlighted Ghana’s credentials as the centre of the world with rich cultural experiences, a destination for adventure, fun, entertainment, leisure and a hotbed of sustainable ecotourism.
In the build-up to the launch and immediately after, series of B2B meetings and stakeholder engagements were embarked on. The country has also launched a series of advertising campaigns on key international media outlets and provided platforms for Ghanaian tour operators to reach out to UK and European based operators. With the COVID- 19 situation stabilizing around the world and the government’s easing of travel restrictions, the Ghana Tourism Authority believes it is time to re-engage key source markets as it seeks to increase international arrivals. The project is expected to position the tourism and hospitality sector as key drivers of social and economic development.
The campaign is also in consonance with the seven pillars of Beyond the Return, launched in 2020 on the heels of 2019’s Year of Return. Beyond the Return, with its formulated seven pillars is running for ten years to grow the tourism industry in Ghana, showcase the country’s investment potential and solidify its diaspora engagement programs.