GHANA: SCRAP SHORT TERM TOURIST VISAS-UPDATE

Posted on June 11, 2012

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This comment came on a post from 2009 which is just as current,if not more so, as it was then:

Submitted on 2012/06/09 at 4:36 pm
I agree with the above. My sister and I visited Ghana in April to early May 2012. We almost cancelled our holiday as we spent so much money-getting the yellow fever injection, malaria tablets and paying for the short-term visa application which can take a while to process. There are so many other countries we could have visited with a lot less hassle. It is totally unnecessary to have a visa for short stay visitors. Ghana is a beautiful country with beautiful people but unfortunately many people will never know because they will not bother with the hassle of applying for a visa. Our visa cost £50 and £6 for postage. It can only be done online and my computer was giving problems.
We are from the UK and there are so many people in the UK wanted to visit Ghana but they are put off by the short-term visas. Jessie.

Sometimes I wonder if it is only me! But then I saw the same recommendation come on a post entitled “Encouraging tourism to the Ivory coast”. NOW THERE’S A CHALLENGE! You can read the whole post or read the pertinent recommendation here:

“2. Make tourist visas available at the airport, so you don’t have to get them beforehand, and even better make them free. Why make it difficult for people to visit your country?”

I posted this on my facebook page and got the following comment from Ian Utley author of the great guide-book Culture Smart! Ghana:

“It will never happen Chris. We make it so hard for Ghanaians to get visas to our countries, so they want to do the same to get us back. How do you say in Twi “cutting off your nose to spite your face”?
Saturday at 12:58pm.”

and my reply to Ian:

“You tell me. What’s more the Ghanaian missions use revenues from visas to finance the missions and I just read that a number of missions are three months in arrears paying their staffs. Guess tourism is down…
Saturday at 1:04pm via mobile.”

And lastly, if you read the Encouraging Tourism to Ivory Coast post you’ll note the observation about the public service’s preoccupation with rules and regulations. Here in Ghana it is no difference and maybe that’s why there is no public-private dialogue, let alone collaboration to make things better. Actually the bottom line is there is no political will to improve tourism because nobody has any faith in one another…the public sector in the private and vice versa…

This was really borne out in a discussion that took place on the Ghana Travel and Tourism linked in group.

Announcement from Ghana Travel and Tourism
I will be in Accra during the first week of July and would like to meet with interested stakeholders about hosting the “West African Food and Travel Market”. Please let me know if you would like to meet up. I welcome to opportunity to meet most of you so as to plan a successful event.

I replied ever naive and the eternal optimist:

“Chris Scott • Four Villages Inn, Kumasi, suggests you approach GHATOF and the sector associations, especially the National Executive of the Ghana Hotels Association, as well as the G.T.A.”

Then this came from the American owner of a small travel and tours, EASY TRACK GHANA

LinkedIn
Steven Wilson has sent you a message.

Date: 6/08/2012

Subject: RE: Four Villages Inn, Kumasi, suggests you approach GHATOF and the sector associations, especially the National Executive of the Ghana…

Chris,
Hope you are doing well my friend. I think you are really providing a disservice to this woman by referring her to the GTA and other bureaucracies. I do not know your experience, but the self-interests are strong in these organizations, favoritism can be easily purchased, and the bureaucratic nightmares and hassles are endless, as witnessed by our 4-year battle to be recognized on the GTA web site as the licensed tour operator that we are.

Let the little guys stand out!
Regards,
Steve

Note: the discussion has come to a halt…no little guys standing out to support a West African Food and Travel Market.

So…so much for tourism as an engine for growth and national development. I guess the officials know this, so why innovate and scrap short-term tourist visas? why dialogue with the private sector? It is all so sad when there is so much potential….

Well, I guess our only consolation is things could be a lot worse, like in Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, etc.

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