DESTINATION GHANA?

Posted on May 13, 2013

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This is a guest post by Festus Tumi, an experienced, perceptive, highly dedicated Ghanaian tourism professional. The article was first posted on the SCRAP SHORT TERM TOURIST VISAS FACEBOOK GROUP PAGE.

Festus is also the author of the continuation of Mahama-Zuma conversation…see the comments for the last post (scroll down).
photo (18)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT-PERSPECTIVE FROM FESTUS TUMI, PUBLISHER OF DESTINATION GHANA

Destination Ghana’s mission is to help develop and promote Ghana as a tourism “destination”.
The idea came to me after working as a hotel manager for some major chains in Aruba, in the Dutch Caribbean from 1998 to 2006.
What struck me was the fact that this particular island – only 19 miles long by 6 miles wide – produced, well almost absolutely nothing! It hasn’t any history of note, and imports EVERYTHING. I mean COWS are considered exotic animals there. Add a near desert climate, no arable land, no forest, no rivers, no natural resources, it is no surprise that the Spanish conquistadors called the place “Ouraba” meaning useless. But in spite of these minor setbacks Aruba has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean generated through, you’ve guessed it, tourism. The island receives over 1.2 million (verified – none of this Ghana style, pluck figures out of the air stuff) visitors each year, with each visitor staying on average 7 nights and spending over USD$1000!
What is the attraction? SUN, SEA, SAND!
So this got me thinking. Ghana has ALL THREE of the above. A coastline almost 250 miles long with outstanding beaches at Ada, Prampram, Princes Town, Axim, Akwidaa, Busua, Beyin and more. Throw in a rich Asante history amplified because of the British-Ashanti wars, some decent wildlife, rainforests, waterfalls, historical monuments etc we exceed Aruba’s attractions.
I digress, but then I don’t.
I came to Ghana, knowing that if we could focus on developing Ghana as a destination, then hotels and ancillary industries would all benefit. Destination Ghana magazine was created with this in mind. I spent close to 3 years just gathering information, visiting attractions and hoteliers, taking photos, and meeting officials. I was self funded, with some income from advertisers once the publications had come out.
I am fortunate to have travelled to many countries. I have visited as a tourist most of Europe, US, most of the Caribbean islands, Venezuela, China, India, Egypt and most recently Gambia all on my own money – no per diem for me! And I believe I can honestly understand the frustrations that a genuine tourist would face wishing to SPEND money in Ghana.
I have always argued that genuine tourists travel to a DESTINATION, not to a hotel nor a conference. Once the destination is decided upon, only then are the hotels and activities researched and the itinerary booked.
That is the notion that the Ghana Tourism Authority, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials don’t seem to understand. They are not interested in genuine tourists. They focus on those that attend conferences. Those arrivals do just that, attend conferences and fly back out again showing no interest in the country whatsoever. Business/conference travellers face no visa hassles. Their offices take care of all that. And they don’t care about nor pay for the ridiculously high Accra hotel room rates nor anything else.
I am currently back in the UK working on Destination Ghana online, which hopefully will become live in July. Hoteliers wishing to be part of the directory can contact me on fktumi@yahoo.com

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