Covid-19 proved a “cruel irony” for developing domestic tourism in many countries as, owing to the cabin fever caused by the pandemic’s protocols of social distancing the interest of thrillseekers to venture out into the outdoors on camping and other such adventures got boosted. In Ghana, the authorities responded with the timely launch of a campaign to encourage operators to look inward and offer itineraries to the domestic market. As a result of the loose regulatory regime, buoyed by citizens’ keen interest to be in the great outdoors, this call triggered many groups and individuals to promote domestic tours.
Today, there’s a proliferation of road trip adventures being promoted at an unprecedented level with new itineraries springing up everyday, offering quite a bit of choice. Would this development, as it opens up our tourism, prompt the earnest preservation and maintenance of, perhaps, a selection of our tour sites and facilities? PaJohn Bentsifi Dadson found out.
Here is a list of recommended upcoming road trips to check out.
Let’s face it, going on road trips, for vacation, with family or with friends, is an exciting venture which everyone likes to do every so often. However, never has it been more keenly appreciated than during the pandemic when countries were on lockdown. This literally brought the hospitality industry to a standstill as people couldn’t travel and had to stay at home. In no time, cabin fever set in, with people yearning to get out, especially away from the cities where infections seemed to be high.
Today, as things ease up, hospitality operators must be feeling some relief as the outlook is much brighter after the 2-year‘ horror show’. Business is beginning to boom again. Hopefully, things will get back to the kind of numbers that was being done pre-pandemic.
For many, however, it may still be a long way back, but, surely, everyone must be happy to see signs of life right now, no matter how their ‘recovery’ is going.
In Ghana, the call by the government for citizens to participate more in domestic tourism opened up a flood of enterprises offering one adventure or other.
Many of these providers are not even registered with the authorities, and are thus, not under the regulation of the Ghana Tourism Authority, which is mandated with oversight for the sector. Most of them are associations and clubs offering recreational options to their members. A good number too are entrepreneurs who see an opportunity to cash in on a seemingly profitable social thread.
Unfortunately, offering tourism services is not “chicken feed”. The level of customer service needed to provide a sustainable delivery alone makes it very highly competitive and soon, people will sieve through as their expectations grow, and the chaff will fall off, leaving the real McCoys!
Both service providers and users expect great improvements at our various attractions. Especially when the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture announced receiving a grant from the World Bank to fund tourism projects under a Ghana Tourism Development Program. In recent times, its implementing arm, the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) have been seen undertaking development programs at many attraction sites.
Updating industry players on the sector’s current situation, the CEO of the GTA, Mr Akwasi Agyeman explains that though the legislative instrument – LI (2939) – on sites and attractions, tabled to Parliament has been passed since 2019 for his outfit to regulate all sites, ownership of the sites determine the level of influence GTA can exert.
“We have public, community owned and private sites, most of which are in poor shape due to issues of governance structure and accountability.”
Fortunately, the LI provides the framework for some level of “partnerships that have seen some upgrades, investments and management restructure in some of the community controlled sites.”
“Through these arrangements,” he reveals, “works are ongoing or have been completed in places like Nzulezu, Kintampo, Tafi Atome, Aburi Gardens, Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Farm, Bonwire among others.”
“For public sites like our forts and castles, museums, parks etc, there are ongoing plans for upgrades,” Akwasi intimated, adding that, “Redesigns and additions to Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park have been done and the procurement processes are ongoing to select a contractor for the build up.”
He further noted that renovation work on the National Museum is also almost completed and curators are finalizing their works for its opening soon.
“In 2021, consultancies through competitive tendering were awarded as part of the World Bank funded Ghana Tourism Development project to three Ghanaian architectural firms, The Consortium, Amalgamated and Evans Anfom, to work on masterplans for the Southern Enclave, Northern Enclave and Craft villages. All 3 have submitted their draft final plans which is now being reviewed to become the National Tourism Sites Masterplan. They have all done extensive consultations feeding into their final proposals. The plans tackle needed work in most of the public sites and how they will feed off each other. This forms part of the preservation and maintenance plans.”
Stakeholder engagements on some of our national museums, forts, and castles, according to the CEO, take a while, owing to the fact that they are listed as World Heritage sites. It needs the involvement of UNESCO and other international organisations.
With regards to private sites, a call for proposals for grants under the GTDP a couple of years ago, saw some sites being granted some support in the form of funding, including Manhyia, Bisa Aberewa, Afadjato and the Pan African Heritage World Museum.
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture aims to generate as much as $2.3 billion this year from the various tourist sites, including forts and castles, and museums
It is the sector Minister, Ibrahim Mohammed Awal’s expectation that the sector will create about 150,000 jobs for local people, bring in one million international tourists and generate a further 800,000 domestic tourists.