- but private event centres profit
With Ghana progressively becoming a December holiday event destination for diasporans and Africans in the sub-region, conditions at the country’s event facilities are increasingly deteriorating and being left in a sorry state.
Ghana, in the last two years, has branded the last month of the year as ‘December in Gh’, a campaign that seeks to put the country clearly on the global map as West Africa’s foremost destination for revellers across the globe, placing emphasis on the diaspora as its main target market.
Despite the increase in awareness and subsequent positioning of the country as such, the nature and quality of state-owned event facilities have declined – whereas private event centres have been cashing in on the situation.
The B&FT has observed that though the state does not have enough event centres, those that are currently operating are not fit for purpose… with some key ones remaining closed. Indeed, the State House Banquet Hall – which can host close to 1,500 people and is owned by the country – has been shut down for the last five years.
The National Theatre is another key facility that needs vital attention, as most of its seats are broken with non-functioning air-conditioners and no standby generator to power the 1,200-capacity facility.
The back-stage, changing rooms and washrooms of the Theatre need total overhaul and renovation to merit a befitting status. The edifice by design has no windows, and for such facility to operate without a standby generator to mitigate unforeseen circumstances has raised eyebrows among industry players. The almost 2,000-capacity Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) has also been a subject of concern, as industry players have complained about its structural challenges and called for the Centre’s upgrade.
Private event centres cashing in
As the country sacrifices its event facilities to dilapidation, notable private event centres are raking in the available revenue. The maximum booking fee – depending on the nature of event for an entire day – at the National Theatre and Conference Centre ranges between GH¢15,000 – GH¢30,000.
However, private event arenas, including some major hotels, charge booking fees of up to GH¢200,000 or more for a one-day event.
Checks by the B&FT indicate that the current booking fee for Grand Arena – a facility situated on the premises of the AICC and owned by CharterHouse – takes a one-day rental fee of not less than GH¢100,000 depending on the type of event. Though private, Grand Arena has become the country’s major event centre, showcasing a modern state-of-the art edifice.
Because Grand Arena happens to be the only indoor venue available, it is always over-subscribed as event organisers struggle for space. This situation has the probability of creating the ‘highest-bidder’ phenomenon that favours those who can pay more.
Government’s plan to build ultra-modern event auditoriums
Government in 2021 said it would build ultra-modern auditoriums across the country to host local and international events. However, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has said emphasis will be placed on the construction of amphitheatres across the country instead.
But CEO of Image Bureau, George Quaye, said government needs to do more to deepen the country as a MICE destination. “The only thing government can do is put up the auditoriums. What is the point of positioning Ghana as a holiday destination every December if there are no befitting places to host events?” he queried.