The travel industry is one of the biggest and quickest developing areas in the worldwide economy, bringing new open doors for some nations, urban communities, and areas while simultaneously introducing many new difficulties. Proceeded development is causing tension in the framework, the climate, neighborhood networks, other financial areas, furthermore more extensive society.
Whenever uncontrolled, this development can prompt huge effects on delicate social, legacy, and ecological locales and the everyday existences of inhabitants, frequently bringing about negative insights or even disdain towards vacationers and the travel industry all the more extensively.
In 2020, Ghana’s travel and tourism sector contributed nearly 1.9 billion U.S. dollars to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Compared to the 3.7 billion U.S. dollars registered in the preceding year, this decrease was impacted by Covid-19 since the global pandemic affected the industry.
In Ghana, the tourism sector is plagued with monotonous products, requiring urgent diversification. The questions have always been: diversify to where and with new products? We need to package some of our popular, established, indigenous, traditional festivals as tourism hallmark events, diversify Ghana’s tourist product offering, and improve her domestic and international tourist earnings.
Easter In Kwahu
Traditional festivals abound in all the regions of the country. If these festivals are structured and packaged well, they can be used to promote tourism. One such festival is the “Easter Festival” by the Kwahus. In Ghana, one of the foremost local communities which have Easter as its main festival is the Kwahu people.
To their credit, the Easter festival, which is celebrated by Ghanaians of all walks, has been “franchised” to them as a memorable Kwahu affair; hence the brand name – Kwahu Easter Festival.
To the people of Kwahu, Easter is a traditional heritage bestowed on them by their forefathers many years ago. This festival has now taken a national and international dimension due to the touristic activities such as Paragliding, marathons, Music concerts at Rock City Hotel, and other open street events.
Due to the global pandemic (Covid-19), the Kwahu Easter festival was put on hold for the past two years, significantly affecting investors and the local economy of the various towns in the Kwahu enclave. With the lifting of restrictions on events by the President, The Ghana Tourism Authority, GTA, with the support of the Kwahu Traditional Council and a local organizing committee consisting of the Kwahu West, East, and South Municipal Assemblies, launched the 2022 edition of the annual Kwahu Easter and Festival. About three million people are expected to visit and participate in this year’s event, which will take off from the 15th of April.
Rethinking The Easter Success for An Inclusive Growth
This year, the Local organizing committee has made great strides under the authority of Kwahuhene Dasebre Akuamoah II through the traditional council and in partnership with the assemblies, Dotcom Events, Niewtree Gh. Ltd, Ghana Police and GTA. The measures put in place ensure smooth traffic management, effective human movement, accountable revenue collection, and safety concerns.
My interest is still in how beneficial, and sustainable this long festival can be to the whole Kwahu enclave and not a selected few as it pertains and continues to be. For instance, over the years, the events and celebrations have centered around Paragliding, the Marathon, the open street concert, and recently the prominence of Rock City Hotel hosting a musical concert. The opportunity to open up the entire Kwahu enclave to the world must be the core objective which has the potential to ensure sustainable growth and diversity.
Because despite tourism’s clear potential as a driver for positive change, it is widely accepted that rapid or unplanned tourism growth can result in a range of negative impacts. For example, overcrowding and congestion of tourism-related infrastructure, often referred to as overtourism or unbalanced tourism, can degrade natural and historical sites, monuments, landscapes, and public spaces. We must open and spread the events and celebrations all over the Kwahu enclave to help boost the entire local economy for sustainable growth.
Evaluating Kwahu Easter success – the need for a paradigm shift
Balance of benefits and burdens – steps should be taken to increase the benefits of visits for all Kwahu citizens while actively and visibly reducing the burdens to an acceptable minimum.
- All of Kwahu is attractive – distribute visitors more evenly across Kwahu from Nkawkaw to Donkorkrom at different times by improving existing/developing new offerings and highlighting unknown areas.
- Accessible and reachable – develop an integrated transport system (air, rail, road, and water), with locals and visitors benefitting from sustainable mobility solutions and optimal accessibility.
- Sustainability is a must – to safeguard the living environment for all Kwahu citizens, the visitor economy has a responsibility to improve its sustainability, employ raw materials, and prevent pollution and waste.
- A hospitable industry – invest in the image, professionalism, and attractiveness of the industry as an employer through new forms of training and development, attracting new employees, and offering opportunities for future career development.
Economic Sustainability – Financially successful businesses can grasp the opportunities provided by the other elements of sustainability and invest with the following as a crucial backbone.
- Visitor Sustainability – Meeting and exceeding the expectations of our visitors is a crucial mechanism to create added value from tourism. This should be part of the whole culture during Easter and beyond.
- Sustainable Host Communities – Welcoming, supportive communities must be considered a vital part of Kwahu visitor offer. Sustainable businesses have to find ways to add value to the various communities to support the protection and enhancement of their social license to operate in those communities.
- Environmentally Sustainable Tourism – The tourism industry in Ghana must take a leading role in protecting and enhancing the environment on which it depends for the benefit of future generations.
Investment and financing opportunities for sustainable tourism growth in Kwahu are critical and must be at the forefront going forward. With the strong forecast growth in global tourism to 2030, significant investment will be required to provide the accommodation, transport, and other tourism-related services and infrastructure necessary to meet expected demand while enhancing economic, social, and environmental outcomes.
As is the case for tourism policy more generally, this will require an integrated approach across many departments (e.g., transport, environment, agriculture, innovation, education, tourism) and levels of government (national, regional, local), with input and support from industry.
The vast Afram land and water can be the next waterfronts and resorts in the coming years. The real question is, how do we attract and expand the development to all other areas and sectors in Kwahu and develop more tourist sites, destinations and infrastructure to ensure sustainability and diversity?.
As we celebrate 2022 easter, I hope we keep thinking about this and put our thoughts together to ensure that this festival will be widely distributed economically and benefit all in the coming years.
Long live Kwahu
Happy Easter to all.
>>>the writer is a Member of the local organizing committee (LOC) of the Kwahu Easter Festival. He can be reached on [email protected] and or 0243264314