Destination Legon – the bridge between academia and the tourism sector


Destination Legon is a two-day tourism marketing exhibition organised by the Department of Marketing & Entrepreneurship of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS). The event has been running for the past 10 years, but missed out on two editions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 8th edition, which was held on the theme ‘Tourism and Hospitality Futures: Our Experiences of Tomorrow’, was held on the main campus of the University of Ghana on 6th and 7th  July, 2023 as climax of activities marking the 43rd Management Week Celebrations of the university.

This year’s event began with a tour of the University of Ghana campus, where about 110 students from PRESEC, Achimota School, Wesley Girls’, Savanna International Academy–Tamale, and Holy Child School were given a tour of the University of Ghana campus. The tour offered the students the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the beautiful landscape and facilities that the university possesses.

The main event, which was the exhibition by level 400-year students and Masters students pursuing Tourism Marketing at the University of Ghana Business School, was to showcase the work of student groups on innovations in tourism product development, demonstrating tourism and hospitality experiences with digital applications for potential tourists. Digital concepts and tools – such as Quick Response (QR) Coding, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Block Chain Technology (BCT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – were some of the key technological applications.

As has been the call by many industry players for academia to contribute in finding practical solutions to the needs of industry, ‘Destination Legon’ can best be described as the bridge between academia and the tourism sector.

According to available data, the tourism sector in 2022 contributed more than US$2billion to the gross domestic product, with a total of about eight hundred thousand visitors.

The sector, which remains one of the most diversified of the economy, with the potential to create millions of jobs, arguably holds the solution to the unemployment situation bedevilling the country, especially if there was to be a strong collaboration between industry and academia.

The 8th edition of Destination Legon was attended by key stakeholders within the tourism industry, including the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr. Akwasi Agyeman; Executives from the Ghana Tourism Federation, Ghana Tourism Development Authority, with sponsorship from Deloitte Ghana, Kasapreko Company Limited and Belpak.

The university community was also represented by senior management members and senior lecturers, including the Dean of the Business School, Professor Justice N Bawole; Prof. Bedman Narteh, the Head of Marketing and Entrepreneurship Department; Prof. Ernest Tweneboah-Kodua, among others.

With an intense publicity drive by the media team, the well-organised event attracted both students and the general public to witness how technology can transform the tourism sector of our country.

About 150 students, divided into 23 groups, participated in the exhibition, with each displaying the use of innovation and modern technology to meet the need of the tourism sector.

From conceptualisation to implementation, students came up with very interesting names – Travel Light, Chop Life Tour, Espirit Exploration, Leave 2 Live, Questfinders, Explore Gh, Yaa Ni Oba, Tour Tech Student Outdoor Odyssey, Bae Kwe, Muse AI, Explore Experience, Hilly Group.

The ‘Xplor Experience’ team, eventual winners of the 8th Edition of Destination Legon Tourism Marketing Exhibition, developed an AI chatbot system named Kofi. Through artificial intelligence, Kofi gives details about all tourism sites in Ghana. It connects the potential tourist to a travel buddy anywhere in Ghana.

The aim of the chatbot is to make it easy and smooth for tourists to identify any tourism destination of their choice with less hustle and also enable them have a memorable experience.
Also, the group developed a B2B platform with the focus on creating a ticket solution to help track revenues generated from tourist sites and allow tourism business to sign up on the app.

The ticketing solution is to help prevent extortion at tourist sites in Ghana and ensure accountability and transparency. The app allows tourists to buy tickets online.

The Chop Life Tour explored the beautiful town of Ada, which historically used to be a slave market but now an eco-friendly tourism site to visit. The group visited the Aqua Safari and the Nkyinkim Museum. Using Virtual Reality and Quick Response technology as an innovative tool, the group exposed visitors to the exhibition to the sights and sounds of Ada as the go-to place for relaxation, conferences and meetings.

The BeyondBorders also created a website system that seeks to broaden the scope of tourism within the private sector. The target market of the group is mainly individuals or mass tourist groups who seek further details about hotels before travelling to Ghana. The groups website will partner with various hotels and have sub-domain websites which will allow tourists access various hotels and other tourists sites in the country and the distance of these sites from their hotels. This will afford tourists the opportunity to explore many sites as possible and select hotels that will meet their tourism needs.

The Leave2Live group highlighted Akosombo as a clean, relaxing environment for tourists. Tourists visiting Akosombo can also visit the Shai Hills Forests reserve and the Adomi Bridge. The Akosombo enclave has also witnessed the development of world-class hotels; for example, Bridge View Hotel, Trident Island Resort and the Peninsula Resort are places tourists can feel at home. The group developed a QR Code system which allows potential tourists to scan and access all necessary information before embarking on a trip.

The Travel Light group brought the stunning landscape of the Shai Hills closer to the tourists through the use of 3D video experience which affords visitors the opportunity to indulge in an immersive video experience of the beautiful natural scenery of the Shai Hills. These captivating videos transport viewers to the heart of the park, providing a virtual tour that showcases its natural wonders, which enhances their desire to have an on-site adventure of the place.

As indicated by the convener, Prof. Kobby Mensah, Destination Legon provides the opportunity for industry players to engage with academia for workable solutions to the demands of the industry.

“Destination Legon is an event that conceptualises innovations from the perspectives of academia to the industry through students’ research on the needs of the sector, and provides workable solutions for commercial benefits,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr. Akwasi Agyeman, commended the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship of the University of Ghana Business School for the initiative and further urged tourism players to embrace the technologies developed by the students to increase patronage of their services.

“I am impressed with the various innovation solutions developed by the students, and I believe the time has come for us to minimise the manual way of doing things if we want our sector to be competitive and attractive to more visitors,” he said.

The Dean of the Business School, Professor Justice N. Bawole, expressed gratitude for the tremendous support received from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. He expressed hope for further collaboration to institutionalise Destination Legon and expand it to other parts of Ghana in future exhibitions.

Indeed, with such innovative solutions from students, Destination Legon has really come to bridge the gap between academia and the tourism industry. Videos of the various groups are available on YouTube Destination Legon 8th edition.

>>>the writer is a final year MBA marketing student, University of Ghana Business School (UGBS)

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