GOT , Episode 1. Of course with all the ”craze” in town and the hype surrounding it, you may we thinking about the very popular hit series ”Game of Thrones”. Sorry to disappoint you but also happy to discuss a very important foreign exchange earner for our dear mother Ghana. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s just take GOT to mean ”GROWING OUR TOURISM”. In this first episode , we look at TOURISTS or let’s call them travelers. These group of people contribute immensely to the growth and development of the tourism industry anywhere in the world. Without them, tourism may just be composed of a bunch of very beautiful sites and facilities sitting in various place going waste. It is because such people utilize facilities and services that the industry succeeds. Just like the characters in Game of thrones who travel a lot, travelers always have a reason for travel. If you are a Game of thrones fanatic or what do we even call them spoilers?, You may be familiar with names such as Daenerys, Arya and Bran. These characters travel quite a lot but always for one reason or the other. In this piece,Jumia Travel (Africa’s leading online travel website) takes a closer look at what tourists or travelers can also do to help grow Ghana’s tourism industry.
These days, wherever we are and whatever we do in Ghana can be seen at the other end of the equator and vise versa. People go to social media for travel inspiration or to verify whether certain myths and stories about Ghana are true. One very fast way of promoting Ghana’s tourism is through social media. While policy makers and other stakeholders increase efforts to utilize this platform, tourists also have an obligation to support. Tweeting a picture of yourself on the canopy walkway at Kakum National Park or sitting on the back of a crocodile at the Paga crocodile pond can get several millions of people all around the world interested in Ghana. Facebook and Instagram which have the largest inventory of active social media users these days are just ready to explode anytime you post a captivating picture or video of an adventure you had in Ghana. Posing by historic monuments is also a great way to promote Ghana’s tourism. Whether you are a Ghanaian or international tourist, you can use social media to help grow tourism in Ghana.
One thing that is not common and doesn’t come natural to many African’s is reviews. In the western world, every item purchased or serviced used is reviewed by the customer. The customers opinion on whether the product or service provided was good or bad is often very critical to a business. It helps the business improve on it’s services, correct mistakes and build on strengths. In the case of tourism, tourists can also review the tourist sites which they visit as well as certain services that come with the whole Ghanaian experience. Feedback on delicate issues such as customer service, sanitation, infrastructure and satisfaction are great for both managers of the tourist sites as well as future travelers. A bad review means a lesser return from foreign visitors as compared to a good review bringing a high number of foreign visitors.
Have you ever been ”disturbed” consistently by that annoying brother, sister or friend about how beautiful or handsome someone they are crushing on is? This is exactly how many tourists make their close friends and family feel about a destination they like because of the overwhelming experiences they had there. Referrals are usually said to be the best and most effective form of marketing. This is because you would naturally take a recommendation from your friend or family about a tourist destination than you would from TV or radio. The fact that someone you trust says it is good, then of course it is good. Tourists can help grow Ghana’s tourism industry by ensuring that the best experiences they have do not stay with them but are shared with others to also come and experience the great culture, tradition and heritage
Patronage of tourism related goods and services
There have been many instances where tourists travel to Ghana and stay for about a week or two yet do not patronize some services. Others will travel half way across the world to see the Legendary Osagyefo Dr. kwame Nkrumah’s Mausoleum but not buy any souvenir that bears his face or name to carry along. Tourism doesn’t end with visiting the site or hearing the story behind it, taking a piece of that history with you back home is also very important. How about eating in that local restaurant or staying in that guesthouse rather than ”perching” with a friend or acquaintance? Some tourists who have health issues will prefer to keep it till they return back home to see a doctor when they can visit hospitals in Ghana. Some tourists may even take biscuits and drinks the whole period rather than eat at any restaurant. Have you noticed how foreign visitors prefer to walk long distances on the streets of Ghana? The excuse may be that they are keeping fit but think about that fun trotro ride or the conversational taxi driver. By patronizing these things, you are helping grow Ghana’s tourism industry.
Change perception about travel and tourism
Finally we look at a very delicate and important issue when it comes to tourism in Ghana. There is old perception about tourism throughout the world and especially in Africa. Many tend to believe that travel and tourism is a preserve for the rich and affluent. ”I don’t earn enough”, ”Tourism is for the rich”, I can’t afford this” are just a few of the many statements you hear from most people when you talk about tourism. Have you heard of domestic tourism? Where in Ghana have you been as a Ghanaian? If you are a foreign tourist, how expensive is it to see tourist sites in Ghana as compared with the price of flying across states in your own home country? These questions only go a long way to prove that we are often misguided by the perception that travel is expensive. The day you cleanse your entire mind off this mentality is the day when Tourism in Ghana wins. Together we can grow a better and much attractive tourism industry. Your effort and contribution counts.
Author : Bennet Otoo, Jumia Travel