Ghana sees strong increase in inbound tourist arrivals
Inbound tourism has continued to increase over the past few years in spite of the global financial meltdown and subsequent recession. In 2011, the country enjoyed a strong increase of almost 6% in tourist arrivals on the previous year. The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) reported that a greater portion of tourists were from the Ghanaian diaspora visiting friends and relatives. The nation’s inbound tourism category benefited from intensified efforts from the GTA to promote and market Ghana as a favourable tourist destination both at home and abroad. Many tourists were also lured by the country’s unique historical, cultural and natural attractions. In addition, Ghana’s expanding economy has also been drawing many business travellers.
Transforming the economy through the oil and gas industry
Ghana is rich in natural resources and also has a diverse economy based on agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism. In the last two years, the country has benefited from a strong rebound in export prices of gold and cocoa, as well as a boost in travel and tourism. However, the nation’s oil and gas industry has emerged as a key driver of economic growth. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ghana was projected to see the strongest economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa of almost 14% in 2011, largely on account of oil production and commercial exports. An increase in oil exporting capacity will help transform the country from being a static emerging economy into a middle-income developing nation.
Government prioritises domestic tourism promotion
Domestic tourism is steadily emerging as an important trend in Ghana’s travel and tourism industry. Until recently, the focus had always been on international tourism. Today, many Ghanaians are showing an increasing interest in engaging in local tourism activities thanks to government efforts to develop this area of the industry. Over the last few months one of the key objectives of the GTA included using aggressive marketing campaigns to encourage domestic tourism. The national tourism body is also engaging with tourism operators to help enhance their service delivery so as to make tourism products more attractive to the local population. Domestic tourism promotion will foster cultural cohesion and national integration as well as help to redistribute income attributable to the expected increase in local tourism business.
Travel and tourism operators consider online marketing
A growing number of travel and tourism operators in Ghana have expressed an interest in marketing their products and services online. In a bid to meet the ever changing trends in tourism demand, many of them have participated in online training programmes geared towards improving their skills in terms of web marketing and promotion. Some hoteliers, tour operators and other travel and tourism professionals have been putting an emphasis on a number of internet marketing services, the most recent being listing their products on Expedia Inc, the world’s largest online travel agent. This has helped to expose Ghana’s travel and tourism offerings to millions of tourists around the world, also giving the country an advantage over other West African destinations.
Positive outlook for Ghana’s travel and tourism industry
There is a positive outlook for travel and tourism in Ghana. Despite the slow recovery from the global recession and the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis, the industry is expected to witness some growth due to the country’s positive economic outlook as well as an anticipated increase in inbound tourism over the forecast period. This broadly positive outlook presents an opportunity for the government to consistently demonstrate its commitment to supporting the development of travel and tourism in Ghana. A booming economy and the ongoing increasing interest in the country as a tourist destination will help to brighten the future business prospects of the national economy. However, for travel and tourism in Ghana to become more sustainable, the industry will need further support in terms of finance.
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