Philda Kereng with Kwakye Donkor

The tourism conversation we should have as Ghanaians

David Mawuli

It was a wonderful moment of sheer joy and pride as a Ghanaian as I witnessed Ghana shine at the 5th Africa Tourism Leadership Awards held to cap off a highly successful Africa Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF2022) in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital.

 For three days, ATLF2022 assembled some of the best and brightest brains in travel and tourism and its related sectors from the continent and beyond to dissect various issues of importance to the industry.

On the awards’ night, Ghana’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal received the coveted Destination Lifetime Award while the Ghana Tourism Authority notched up the Outstanding African Tourism Media and Marketing Award.

As a Ghanaian, I felt so proud that the tourism flag of the country was flying so high. But as an industry enthusiast and writer, I couldn’t help wondering if there is more Ghana could do to get our flag flying even higher.

The recent World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism Development Index puts the country on top of West Africa and 12th on the continent. While we have cause to celebrate these achievements, I believe there is so much more that could be done.

It was refreshing to hear Botswana’s President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi and Environment and Tourism Minister, Philda Nani Kereng talk about the bold and progressive policies the government is pursuing to grow tourism and make it the cornerstone of the country’s economic development as they are sped up their COVID-19 recovery efforts.

By now, I want to believe almost every Ghanaian is aware of Ghana’s own ambition in this regard; where we are hoping to achieve at least 2 million international tourists with a revenue of not less than $4 billion by 2024. In addition to this, Dr. Awal has mentioned quite recently during his turn at the Meet the Press that the country is targeting one million domestic tourists with the industry creating 150,000 jobs each year. For anyone who has been following Ghana’s tourism conversations, these are nothing new, as in fact, some of these targets have been reviewed downward with time.

Now, beyond the constant rhetoric of just mentioning figures, I believe it’s important that the policies and actions that are meant to achieve them are equally articulated. It is not enough to be constantly reminded of figures when we do not know how we would get them. 

In our current economic downturn, tourism has the power to provide some respite and cushioning for those whose lives depend on it. Even more important is that, a national interest in tourism backed by progressive policies means the benefits from the industry could have a positive effect on our collective interest and may be the tool that takes us out of the clutches of our current economic turmoil.

Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Memunatu Pratt, Patrick Bitature, others win at Africa Tourism Leadership Awards 2022
Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Memunatu Pratt, Patrick Bitature, others win at Africa Tourism Leadership Awards 2022

This is the sort of conversation I hope we can have – where we can hold a dialogue on how to improve service delivery, make hospitality affordable, enhance the visitor experience at tourist sites and attractions, improve these attractions, and coach better promotion and marketing strategies for Destination Ghana.

If tourism must thrive, then we must look for ways to ensure that it brings with it, the transformation of lives and livelihoods while improving the narrative around the country as a preferred destination; one that gives visitors and tourists value for their money and provides authentic travel experiences anchored on robust and forward-looking policies.

While I look forward to such a time when we can actually have some of these conversations and actually implement them, I would like to celebrate the individuals; both public and private stakeholders who continue to work amidst a very tight tourism climate to achieve success such as the ones that were chalked in Gaborone, Botswana.

Edited by David Mawuli

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David Mawuli is a Ghanaian journalist and, travel and food content creator. He kicked off his career as an entertainment reporter and spent 7 years with Pulse.com.gh where he cut his teeth in journalism. David has been nominated for several awards in Ghana but has won two so far. He is currently ranked the 6th top blogger in Ghana. He currently runs MawuliTravels.com alone and is also the Lead Editor at Ghanafuo.com.
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