GHANA:

RE­DUC­ING POVERTY THROUGH TOURISM?

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Special Feature | Ghana Tourism - Words: IN­NO­CENT SA­MUEL APPIAH

tourism is there­fore a tool for poverty al­le­vi­a­tion and so­cial co­he­sion. The ab­ject poverty in our ru­ral ar­eas could be re­duced if tourism were to be de­vel­oped. This is be­cause most of our at­trac­tion sites are dot­ted in the ru­ral ar­eas, where poverty is preva­lent. Tourists spend on ac­com­mo­da­tion, food, sou­venirs and so on at places vis­ited. How­ever, the fact that tourists em­bark on re­turn vis­its and sleep in the ur­ban ar­eas after vis­it­ing the sites does not au­gur well for poverty re­duc­tion. The pro­vi­sion of so­cial ameni­ties in such ar­eas will there­fore go a long way to open up these ar­eas to en­tice tourists to spend days at the at­trac­tion ar­eas.

Tourism also ori­en­tates the com­mu­nity to­wards new in­tro­duc­tions, which may be pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive or both. Tourism never leaves a place with­out plant­ing its foot­prints in there. It also makes a peo­ple con­scious of their en­vi­ron­men­tal clean­li­ness, and good con­ser­va­tion prac­tices in a very sus­tain­able way, be­cause so long as the com­mu­nity area is ac­cept­able to the vis­i­tors, they will con­tinue to ar­rive and drop some ben­e­fits to the host com­mu­nity.

It ad­dresses the so­cial and cul­tural is­sues of the com­mu­nity in a very pos­i­tive way. In Ghana, tourism as a tool for poverty al­le­vi­a­tion is not in doubt. What is in doubt is the un­der­stand­ing of the in­dus­try be­cause not much by way of ed­u­ca­tion as to what it is and is not is brought home to the Ghana­ian so­ci­ety. Tourism en­joys a lot of global at­ten­tion due to its eco­nomic power to gen­er­ate huge in­comes to na­tions and its mas­sive job cre­ation base. The po­ten­tial of tourism to tran­sform de­vel­op­ing economies and leapfrog them into mid­dle in­come economies within record time has never been doubted both by econ­o­mists and politi­cians.

The ad­vanced coun­tries com­mit so much bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions to the tourism in­dus­try and they re­ceive the big­gest chunk of busi­ness trav­ellers who have all the money to spend. In re­cent times, de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, es­pe­cially those in Africa, have taken to tourism as one of the pos­si­ble panaceas for their eco­nomic chal­lenges. No­table among na­tions that have given pri­or­ity to tourism on their de­vel­op­men­tal agenda are Malaysia, Morocco, Mau­ri­tius, Kenya, Egypt and Sin­ga­pore. These coun­tries in­vested so much into de­vel­op­ing tourism and are mak­ing gains.

Statistics shows that Ghana’s tourism makes al­most $1.1bn USD in for­eign ex­change earn­ings, con­tribut­ing four per­cent to the na­tional Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct and cre­at­ing about 220,000 direct for­mal em­ploy­ments across the coun­try.

Tourism de­vel­op­ment

Tourism has be­come a ma­jor global eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. In many coun­tries, it has over­taken agri­cul­ture and man­u­fac­tur­ing. The di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of Ghana’s econ­omy in

Tourism is an eco­nomic tool which, when planted in a com­mu­nity ex­presses its pos­i­tive pres­ence through the jobs that spring from it. It then also con­trib­utes to the par­tic­u­lar place's ex­po­sure to its ex­ter­nal world draw­ing at­ten­tion to it and with its vis­its that cre­ate the es­tab­lish­ment of the lo­gis­tics to ad­dress the needs of the vis­i­tors, while they are there; food, drinks, trans­porta­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, friend­ship, sou­venirs.

1985 and the need to shift fo­cus from the over- re­liance of the econ­omy on the tra­di­tional com­modi­ties brought the tourism sec­tor into the front­line as a ma­jor eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity that has the po­ten­tial of re­sus­ci­tat­ing the ail­ing econ­omy. Ghana of­fers a wide range of unique and ex­cit­ing nat­u­ral, cul­tural and his­toric re­sources, which are highly un­de­vel­oped, but must be de­vel­oped. As a tra­di­tional ex­port, tourism has the po­ten­tial to be­come a pow­er­ful tool in pro-poor de­vel­op­ment strate­gies. It has the abil­ity to cre­ate jobs and wealth. This po­ten­tial can be re­alised if sound eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment strength of tourism is ef­fec­tively mo­bilised to cre­ate wealth and fight poverty in the com­mu­ni­ties in par­tic­u­lar, and the coun­try at large. The pos­i­tive im­pact of tourism can be as­sessed in terms of for­eign ex­change earn­ings, em­ploy­ment and in­come as well as a con­ser­va­tion of the bio­di­ver­sity and also a cat­alytic tool for the growth of other busi­nesses. In­deed, the tourism sec­tor in Ghana is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some sig­nif­i­cant growth since 1996 with tremen­dous pos­i­tive im­pact from the year 2000. The growth ex­pe­ri­enced re-em­pha­sises the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to the de­vel­op­ment of the tourism sec­tor. This state­ment has been re-echoed by Pres­i­dent John Agyekum Ku­fuor in his 2005 sec­tional ad­dress to par­lia­ment when he said, “Tourism is a gold mine that must be tapped.” Tourism in Ghana is in­deed the untapped goldmine of the econ­omy.

Even though about 80 per­cent of the tourism po­ten­tials of the coun­try re­mains untapped, it is the fourth for­eign ex­change earner of the coun­try after re­mit­tances from abroad, co­coa and gold. How­ever, the Min­istry of Tourism and Di­as­pora Re­la­tions is the least re­sourced. This has led to lit­tle pub­lic­ity, poor mar­ket­ing, sites are not prop­erly de­vel­oped, no pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als, and hence, tourism is rel­e­gated to the back­ground. Look­ing at the fact that tourism is the fourth for­eign ex­change earner in Ghana’s econ­omy with­out any ef­forts, imag­ine what could hap­pen, if it were given lit­tle push with fund­ing and support.

Though the coun­try is blessed with pris­tine beaches stretch­ing over 500 kilo­me­ters, these beaches are left un­de­vel­oped, while por­tions have been turned into places of con­ve­niences. The ha­bit­ual lit­ter­ing is also anath­ema to tourism de­vel­op­ment. How will tourists re­peat their vis­its if tourism as­sets are mis­used?

Tourism de­vel­op­ment and poverty alivi­a­tion

The Tourism Min­istry in Ghana re­cently adopted a new ap­proach to tourism de­vel­op­ment that max­imises the net ben­e­fit of tourism to the poor. This con­cept “Propoor Tourism” en­hances the link­age be­tween tourism busi­nesses and poor-peo­ple, so that tourism’s con­tri­bu­tion to poverty re­duc­tion is in­creased through the ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion of the lo­cal peo­ple in the de­vel­op­ment of the tourism prod­uct. The travel and tourism in­dus­try is it­self hu­man-re­source in­ten­sive due to the ser­vice na­ture of the in­dus­try. Ad­di­tional, one job in the core tourism busi­ness cre­ates about two ad­di­tional jobs (in­di­rect) in the tourism-re­lated econ­omy.

Avail­able statistics in­di­cate that in the area of em­ploy­ment, be­tween years 20002003, to­tal em­ploy­ment in the tourism sec­tor in Ghana in­creased from 90,000 (direct- 26,000; in­di­rect- 64,000) to 127,645 (direct – 37,283; in­di­rect-90,362), rep­re­sent­ing 42 per­cent in­crease. Of those em­ployed. 56 per­cent were males and 44 per­cent fe­males, It is pro­jected that by the year 2009, tourism will em­ploy about 300, 000 peo­ple. The gen­der di­men­sion here is very im­por­tant: ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence, which sug­gests de­vel­op­ing coun­tries with less gen­der in­equal­ity tend to have a lower poverty rate. The im­pli­ca­tion for us is that gen­der equal­ity through cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for women, as is typ­i­cal of the tourism in­dus­try, has a much stronger ef­fect on poverty and the na­tional econ­omy.

Ghana is cer­tainly en­dowed with a wide range of unique and ex­cit­ing nat­u­ral, cul­tural, his­toric and her­itage re­sources,the ma­jor­ity of which are lo­cated in the ru­ral ar­eas of where poverty is en­demic. These re­sources are how­ever, un­der­de­vel­oped to har­ness the fullest po­ten­tials for the ben­e­fit of the com­mu­ni­ties within which they are lo­cated. City, district, mu­nic­i­pal and tra­di­tional au­thor­i­ties who make ef­forts at de­vel­op­ing the tourism re­sources within their lo­cal­i­ties are mak­ing gains from their in­vest­ment.

This ef­fort of­fers a wide range of ser­vice providers in the com­mu­nity eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits. It en­riches mem­bers of the com­mu­nity, thereby en­hanc­ing their so­cial life since they can af­ford the very ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties of life through de­scent work. Tourism is said to have a mul­ti­plier ef­fect, once it is well de­vel­oped and pro­moted. A case study is the Ho­hoe Mu­nic­i­pal As­sem­bly that de­clared its high­est rev­enue com­ing from their in­vest­ment in tourism. About 19 eco-tourism sites around the coun­try are no ex­cep­tions.

Tourism is also a cat­alytic tool that boosts growth in the other sec­tors of the econ­omy, which equally em­ploy a good num­ber of peo­ple. The agri­cul­tural sec­tor em­ploys about 60 per­cent of the coun­try’s to­tal labour force. The tourism sec­tor

Statistics shows that Ghana’s tourism makes al­most $1.1bn USD in for­eign ex­change earn­ings, con­tribut­ing four per­cent to the na­tional Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct and cre­ate­ing about 220,000 direct for­mal em­ploy­ments across the coun­try.

pro­vides a ready mar­ket for farm­ers at the restau­rants and tra­di­tional/indige­nous restau­rants, thereby help­ing to sus­tain farm­ers in their trade. It is an un­de­ni­able fact that tourism also sus­tains the in­dus­trial sec­tor by pa­tro­n­is­ing their prod­uct like­wise the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. Pro­duc­ers of lo­cal tex­tiles, that is, tiedye and batik fab­rics have their prod­ucts highly pa­tro­n­ise by tourists as unique iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of “been to” a des­ti­na­tion. The vi­sion of the Tourism Min­istry to support and pro­mote the achieve­ment of the over­all vi­sion of the Gov­ern­ment of Ghana aims at achiev­ing a per capita in­come of USD$1,000 by 2018 through the re­al­i­sa­tion of the sec­tor’s full po­ten­tial in con­tribut­ing to eco­nomic wealth cre­ation, em­ploy­ment gen­er­a­tion, poverty re­duc­tion, en­vi­ron­ment con­ser­va­tion, as well as na­tional and in­ter­na­tional co­he­sion. To achieve this vi­sion, the Min­istry seeks to at­tract about a mil­lion tourists, which im­ply a cor­re­spond­ing growth in the ex­pan­sion of tourism venues across the coun­try in­clud­ing restau­rants, pubs, night clubs, tourist re­cep­ta­cles, and the like. Fig­ures avail­able in­di­cate that be­tween 1997 and 2007, ho­tel es­tab­lish­ments nearly dou­bled from 751 to 1,430. With the cur­rent in­cen­tives avail­able to at­tract in­vestors, when ef­fec­tively im­ple­mented there is the like­li­hood to re­alise the con­tin­ued and fast growth in the ex­pan­sion of tourism venues that cre­ate more de­cent jobs for the cit­i­zenry.

Chal­lenges fac­ing the tourism in­dus­try

The tourism in­dus­try is be­set with scores of chal­lenges. These in­clude; poor mar­ket­ing of Ghana as a des­ti­na­tion; lack of a Ghana Tourism Brand; low aware­ness of the po­ten­tial of tourism as a vi­able eco­nomic sec­tor; poor in­fra­struc­ture, es­pe­cially poor con­di­tion of ac­cess roads to tourist sites; in­ad­e­quate fund­ing from

Tourism has be­come a ma­jor global eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. In many coun­tries, it has over­taken agri­cul­ture and man­u­fac­tur­ing. The di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of Ghana’s econ­omy in 1985 and the need to shift fo­cus from the over-re­liance of the econ­omy on the tra­di­tional com­modi­ties brought the tourism sec­tor into the front­line as a ma­jor eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity that has the po­ten­tial of re­sus­ci­tat­ing the ail­ing econ­omy.

gov­ern­ment for the sec­tor; and in­ad­e­quate skilled man­power as well as lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism to en­hance ser­vice de­liv­ery. Paucity bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion, lack of lo­gis­tics, poor hu­man re­source base, lack of do­mes­tic aware­ness and pa­tron­age, waste man­age­ment, lack of cor­po­rate support, lack of favourable credit fa­cil­i­ties, the per­cep­tion of tourism as a high risk sec­tor, qual­ity prod­ucts and ser­vices, lack of brand­ing, mar­ket­ing and a re­spectable at­trac­tive tourism im­age abroad, ram­pant road ac­ci­dents among oth­ers are a myr­iad of prob­lems that the Ghana­ian tourism sec­tor has to con­tend with.

Other chal­lenges in­clude poor in­sti­tu­tional com­mit­ment, col­lab­o­ra­tion and support for tourism de­vel­op­ment at the district level; slow pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment in the sec­tor; lim­ited ca­pac­ity and ac­cess to credit, es­pe­cially for women en­trepreneurs such as cater­ers and lo­cal fast food ven­dors; poor waste man­age­ment and san­i­ta­tion, es­pe­cially in the ma­jor cities; Ghana per­ceived as a high cost des­ti­na­tion in the sub-re­gion due to rel­a­tively high air fares and ho­tel tar­iffs; and low bud­get al­lo­ca­tion

Jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for gov­ern­ment support to the tourism sec­tor

The vi­sion of Gov­ern­ment is aimed at achiev­ing a per capita in­come of USD$1,000 by 2018. This im­plies that all sec­tors of the econ­omy must en­sure growth to ag­gre­gately meet this tar­get. The tourism sec­tor has the magic to at­tain the over­all vi­sion of the coun­try. A sim­ple sta­tis­ti­cal cal­cu­la­tion as fol­lows proves this magic. Con­sid­er­ing the fact that the av­er­age spend­ing of a tourist as at 2006 is US$1,985 and av­er­age length of stay is 10days. Ghana at­tracted 497,129 tourists. Math­e­mat­i­cally, rev­enue ac­crued in 2006 to­tal US$986,801,065. This im­plies that tourism per capita in Ghana is US$41.12 with the as­sump­tion that the pop­u­la­tion then stood as 22 mil­lion. The fig­ure only rep­re­sents in­ter­na­tional re­ceipts. How­ever, the ra­tio of in­ter­na­tional tourists to do­mes­tic tourist gen­er­ated is 1:7, mean­ing each in­ter­na­tional tourist ar­rival has a com­ple­men­tary seven do­mes­tic tourists. Con­ven­tion­ally, both tourists have the same ex­pen­di­ture pat­tern, it sig­ni­fies that to­tal re­ceipts from the tourism sec­tor is ap­prox­i­mately US$ 6,907,607,455.00 and hold­ing con­stant the to­tal pop­u­la­tion, it’s very con­ve­nient to con­clude that the per cap­i­tal in­come of tourism is say US$ 314.

Given that the Min­istry is ad­e­quately re­sourced and all other fac­tors favour­ing growth of the sec­tor are con­ducive and we at­tract a mil­lion tourists as tar­geted, it is very com­fort­able to say that the tourism sec­tor could drive the growth Ghana needs to be­come a mid­dle level in­come coun­try. There­fore, a tourism fund is needed, and se­ri­ous talk on this very im­por­tant fac­tor for tourism de­vel­op­ment. Fi­nanc­ing and man­age­ment are the most crit­i­cal fac­tors for tourism de­vel­op­ment. Ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, train­ing and hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment as well as mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tions are di­rectly depen­dent on fi­nanc­ing and man­age­ment. The fi­nanc­ing fac­tor or lack of it has had the most de­bil­i­tat­ing ef­fect on our tourism de­vel­op­ment: The terms of banks for long-term fi­nanc­ing are quite pro­hib­i­tive and tourism projects tend to have long ges­ta­tion pe­ri­ods. The so­lu­tion to this pal­pa­ble sit­u­a­tion is the Na­tional Tourism Fund, whether it takes the form of a spe­cial bank or a re­volv­ing fund for the pri­vate sec­tor tourism ser­vice and plant op­er­a­tors.

Tourism mar­ket­ing starts with the prod­ucts that we are pro­mot­ing. Fi­nanc­ing will de­ter­mine how well we add value to our tourism re­sources. Fi­nanc­ing will also de­ter­mine how ac­ces­si­ble Ghana’s tourist prod­ucts be­come to both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. Fund­ing is re­quired to de­velop Ghana’s at­trac­tions, where value-adding is nec­es­sary. The Metropoli­tan, Mu­nic­i­pal and District Assem­blies need to in­vest in tourism and support tourism in­vest­ments. Fi­nanc­ing is nec­es­sary for reach­ing the mar­kets that we find lu­cra­tive to tap and ex­ploit. Mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tions have be­come a com­plex, com­pet­i­tive and highly tech­nol­ogy-based ac­tiv­ity, not aided at all by the facts that tourism is highly com­pet­i­tive and has a highly elas­tic de­mand. The in­dus­try needs

In­deed, the tourism sec­tor in Ghana is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some sig­nif­i­cant growth since 1996 with tremen­dous pos­i­tive im­pact from the year 2000. The growth ex­pe­ri­enced re-em­pha­sises the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to the de­vel­op­ment of the tourism sec­tor.

soft fi­nanc­ing to support fa­cil­ity de­vel­op­ment, pro­vide in­fra­struc­ture at tourism hot spots, do good main­te­nance on ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties and ameni­ties, and start new projects in an expanding in­dus­try.

The Ghana­ian sec­tor de­serves bet­ter at­ten­tion, since each and ev­ery ham­let, vil­lage, town, city, district or re­gion in Ghana has one unique tourism venue or fa­cil­ity that are scat­tered around the coun­try, whose po­ten­tial is cry­ing for ex­plo­ration and de­vel­op­ment, which has the po­ten­tial to en­sure an even greater de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try to above all stop the ru­ral-ur­ban drift, in search of non-ex­ist­ing white col­lar jobs.

Tourism thrives on good roads, por­ta­ble wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and ef­fec­tive telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions apart from the at­trac­tion it­self. Un­for­tu­nately, most, if not all, at­trac­tion sites are in their raw state and the only way to ex­ploit this gold is to de­velop them to meet in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. If the Min­istry of Tourism and Di­as­pora Re­la­tions’ tar­get of at­tract­ing one mil­lion tourists an­nu­ally is at­tained, tourism will rake in $1.5 bil­lion with the cor­re­spond­ing 300,000 em­ploy­ees in the sec­tor.

In­deed, Ghana is en­dowed with a lot of nat­u­ral re­sources, and there is enough that can be done to com­pete with the In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­nity in terms of de­vel­op­ment. The in­dus­try is the only area that brings in for­eign ex­change earn­ing with­out ex­port. It is an in­dis­putable fact that Ghana has to­day emerged as a spe­cial African tourist des­ti­na­tion, draw­ing peo­ple and vis­i­tors to ex­pe­ri­ence not only its fas­ci­nat­ing cul­tural diver­sity, his­tory and nat­u­ral en­dow­ments, but all that there is to go with peace, sta­bil­ity, good gov­er­nance and a hos­pitable peo­ple.

The ra­tio of in­ter­na­tional tourists to do­mes­tic tourist gen­er­ated is 1:7, mean­ing each in­ter­na­tional tourist ar­rival has a com­ple­men­tary seven do­mes­tic tourists.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.