It’s been 24 years since renounce Ghanaian musician Daddy Lumba first won the Ghana Music Award. Since then many other Ghanaian musicians have also done so. They have all contributed to making lovers of their music happy. Music tourism is the act of travelling to a city, town, or country to watch a music performance, or to attend a music festival. Like most travel trends, it started in the West, and many towns like Glastonbury in the UK depend on it for their tourist footfall. Music tourism has transmuted into a massive phenomenon globally, and it has become the joy of many. When it comes to music, Ghana is a big name and one of the most influential countries on the African continent. The country has produced many old and young artists who have won international awards making the country proud. The tourism aspect of music drives people to travel and once they arrive at the destination, they spend money on accommodation, food, transportation and other ancillary services provided to them. Through the multiplier effect, the local economy benefits immensely. Those planning musical performances must not only consider the music but also consider the economic gains visitor bring to the country thus incorporating a tourism aspect. Tourists travel for many reasons and attending events is one of the many reasons which drives tourism flow to a destination. In the past 24 years since the inception of Ghana Music Award, do we data on the number of international tourists who have traveled to Ghana to attend these events? Or is the focus on Ghana alone. Such events must be advertised in other neighboring West African countries and effort must be made to use music in attracting tourists to Ghana. Many musical events organized in the past have indeed drawn some musicians and tourists from other West African countries mostly Nigeria. One of such concert is Ghana Meets Naija. Beyond they coming to perform, have they been introduced to our tourist attractions? If that were the case, it must be sustained and expanded. If that weren’t the case then it must begin now.
It is reported that Ghana Meets Naija is the brainchild of media personality and CEO of EIB Group, Bola Ray. He organized the first edition almost a decade ago and since then, the concert has grown in stature and reputation as the finest musical concert in Ghana. The format of the event is simply pairing Nigerian music superstars against their Ghanaian counterparts for a showdown. It is held in Accra every year in the month of June.
Another event I’m told attract international artist is Rapperholic. The Rapperholic Concert is organized by rapper Sarkodie and held in the month of December every year. The first edition was held in 2012. Adom Praiz is another event which can attract many international artists and they must be encouraged to not only perform but also take a trip to some nearby tourist attractions. This is Tema an annual concert by Rapper Sarkodie to celebrate Tema’s music reportedly attracted 100,000 people. How many of them were from Togo, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso? Focusing on Ghana alone is not enough. The focus must be beyond Ghana.
Recently, Accra hosted the sister event to Global Citizen’s annual New York City festival, and international artists were brought to Ghana. These are the kinds of events we would like to see in Ghana. The Global Citizen Festival is an annual music event that takes place in September every year, bringing together artists, Global Citizens, world leaders, business leaders, and philanthropists in the mission to end extreme poverty. The number of attendees from neighboring countries must be measured. I don’t know if these figures are available. If they are that’s great. If not, we must consider doing so in the future. Another areas to consider is Ghana’s capability to handling very large number of people coming to witness these events. Should international tourists decide to attend these events in Ghana do we have the capacity to handle I million people and more? Going back into time we look at some of the largest and most attended musical concerts in the World. It’s reported that, Rod Stewart on December 31st, 1994, the British rocker was set to perform the New Year’s Eve show on the pristine Copacabana beach in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. New Year’s Eve fireworks shows already drew major crowds to the location, but adding a legendary rock star to the mix turned out to be a record-setting combination. Much to everyone’s surprise, the New Year’s Eve concert drew out more than 4.2 million attendees, making it officially the largest concert of all time! It even earned a spot in the Guinness World Records. On September 6th, 1997, more than 3.5 million people came to the State University of Russia to watch and listen to Jean Michel Jarre’s electrifying performance. The show featured everything you’d expect from the master composer, including laser shows, fireworks, and even a direct satellite link with the Russian Space Station during the concert! In 1993, Jorge Ben Jor was booked to play the New Year’s Eve show at the iconic Copacabana Beach. The location was already a major tourist (and local) destination for the holiday, and city officials were hoping that hiring a major act would help draw in more tourists. It worked. On New Year’s Eve, 1993, more than 3 million people crowded the Rio De Janeiro beaches to hear Jorge Ben Jor play his set. This was the first concert to ever break the 3 million attendee mark, and only a handful have beaten it ever since. Jean Michel Jarre was getting ready to perform in his native France for the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, also known as Bastille Day. Again, a moment so historic needs a historic performance, and that’s exactly what he did. Jarre’s free public concert on July 14th, 1990 featured a pyramidic stage designed specifically to fit in front of La Défense right between the Parisian skyline. This incredible spectacle drew in crowds from all over the city and surrounding areas. Estimates put attendance at around 2.5 million people, which was a world record at the time! The 2008 Love Parade took place in Dortmund, Germany on a closed-down highway. Because of the venue location, the motto for this year’s festival was the Highway of Love. The festival was actually a weekend-long parade with dozens of artists, vendors, and parties throughout the area, drawing in an incredible 1.6 million people. Because of the incredible acts, the Live 8 Philadelphia concert drew in more than 1.5 million fans that stretched down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for over a mile — and that doesn’t even count the millions tuning in on their TVs around the world. For this concert, Jean Michel Jarre had the entire city as his stage. The event took place right in downtown Houston and was named the Rendez-vous Houston: A City in Concert. And that’s exactly what it was. Massive canvases were hung from many of the skyscrapers in the city which showed light and laser shows synchronized to the electronic music. Spotlights and fireworks shot up all over the city as the entire skyline dazzled for this incredible performance. How many times in history has an entire city been the stage for a concert? An approximate 1.3 million people showed up for the incredible spectacle, which was a world record at the time. Jarre even got his name in the Guinness Book of World Records. In the video of the concert, you can see miles of traffic in both directions trying to get into Houston to see the show — and who could blame them!? In 2001, the Associazione Sportiva Roma soccer team (A.S. Roma) pulled off the miraculous feat of winning its third scudetto. Naturally, everyone in Rome was ecstatic, and they needed to celebrate with a major live performance. Antonello Venditti is an Italian singer/songwriter who became famous in the 1970s for his hard-hitting songs that touched on countless social themes. Over the years, his popularity grew, and he became one of the biggest singers in all of Italy. Finally, when A.S. Roma won their third championship, they naturally called Venditti to perform. In 2001 at the Circus Maximus, Venditti performed to a rowdy crowd of more than a million A.S. Roma fans. The concert was so big that it still holds the record for the busiest free concert to ever be held in Italy. As we use musical tourism to attract domestic as well as international tourists, we must understand the economic benefit the tourism bit brings to the national economy and starting by focusing on our African neighbors should be the way to go. If events organizers lack the understanding in planning tours for these invitees, they must partner some tour operators and they will give some very nice affordable packages. Tourism and music are two beautiful marriages which cannot be separated. They both complement each other and organizers of these events must be aware of the economic benefits of music tourism. A focus of the West African region is a step in the right direction.
Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is also the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a destinations management and marketing company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to [email protected] / [email protected] Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901.Visist our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations.