Restore tourism to its enviable glory

Catherine Afeku – Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture

A video documentary being aired on CNN’s programme-Inside Africa on the country’s slave castles will go a long way to reignite interest in Ghana as a tourist destination. The documentary is part of a campaign to market the country’s tourism potential and we understand that it is making waves with an estimated five million views.

The campaign is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and has been aired since June 11 to August 5. Apart from its historical perspective, it has deep roots among African Americans, and generally all black descendants in the ‘new world’ or the Americas as the case may be.

The history of the ‘Middle Passage’ and the horrendous journey that black African slaves endured during the brutal method of being transported to the ‘new world’ remains a dark spot in the annals of history, and thankfully, such landmarks can be found in Ghana’s coast, and will serve as lasting lessons in history.

Tourism, which was once the fourth biggest foreign exchange earner for the nation, has been on the decline because as a country, we failed to find innovative means to sustain the interest of tourists coming to the country.

We are told that the documentary reached 2,124,000 viewers who are classified as frequent international travelers as well as a number of leisure travelers. This should engineer renewed interest in the country, and we would not be too surprised to see the number of tourists increase significantly.

That is to say, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture must be commended for coming up with this 30-minute video documentary that focuses in part on the Elmina Slave as well as the tourism potential of the country.

In saying so, however, this means the Ministry needs to invest more to attract and sustain tourist visitation and this includes infrastructure investments like access roads. The hospitality industry also must be improved to offer world-class service and our hotels, motels, guest houses and the like must improve their service delivery since a frustrated tourist will not give a good account of the bad service/treatment he or she encountered while in the country.

Lest we forget, the tourist is under no obligation to part away with his foreign currency, but will be only too happy to spend when the experience is exciting, fun and engaging. Ghana is blessed with a hospitable people but more needs to be done to make our country truly tourism friendly, and we need to work at that.