According to the hospitality report for Ghana which was recently released, Tourism contributed 7.8% of the country’s GDP for last year. Tourism also ranked fourth on the high foreign exchange earner list after gold, cocoa and oil.
The forecasts show that the industry can only grow bigger and bigger as it holds great potential and has all the bearings of a very profitable sector of Ghana’s already fast developing economy. However, the industry faces many challenges and as per the report by the online hotel booking website, these challenges need careful attention and properly structured solutions in order to provide good grounds for development.
We take a critical look at some solutions to challenges facing the hospitality industry in Ghana.
Limited understanding of tourism
The first step in solving any problem is identifying and understanding the various components of the problem. Many individuals, corporate organizations and Government agencies are willing to support this industry and make it grow. The main hindrance to this is the fact that there is limited understanding of the tourism industry.
A lot of people think that Tourism is restricted to the main tourist sites they know. To solve this, all stakeholders including Government agencies and the media have to invest a lot of time and resources in educating the general public about the various components of the tourism industry. Mass sensitization about the history, culture and tradition of our great country and tourist sites will go a long way to make people understand and appreciate what we have as a country.
It will also equip locals with enough information to sell Ghana and it’s beauty to foreigners or family who want to visit Ghana. Through that, high revenues will be generated since foreign visitors contribute immensely to the Tourism sector in Ghana.
There is absolutely no investor who will invest in an industry that has no previous track record of success or has no clear future. Every business person or entity will push money where they see viability or an opportunity for growth and development.
To solve the problem of lack of investment, we must make our industry very attractive. We must advertise the beauty of this great country and maintain well the already existing sites. We must also appeal for aid from corporate bodies and stakeholders. It is only when people know that help is needed will they come to our aid.
Lack of Professionalism
We are in a world where professionalism has become the benchmark of many successful businesses. A high sense of professionalism is what many international brands and companies dwell on. Providing a great customer service in an apt highly professional way creates a certain image for your brand or industry. In Ghana however, professionalism is either limited to the ‘’bigger brands’’ or completely absent.
The way out is simple but deserves close attention and time. Many hotels and tourism related companies and organizations must frequently train staff and equip them with current practices and procedures. Also, when employing individuals for certain positions, employers must carefully select the well equipped people to ensure a high sense of professionalism.
The introduction of international brands also gives the local brands a reference point to learn from. So rather than seeing these international brands as competitors, local businesses must see them as a solution to the problem.
Improvement of infrastructure
After all is said and done, once we train staff, get more investors and educate people on tourism, we have to provide good enough infrastructure to various tourist sites and hotels. Unfortunately, access roads to many of our popular tourist destinations and hotels are not of the best standards.
It is often difficult to find a clean pathway to many of these places and hence it is demotivating for tourists who may not return or even recommend the destination to family and friends. Stakeholders and the Government must ensure that access roads are good and safe for travel.
Also, good amenities such as portable drinking water and electricity have to be provided to make the stay of tourists very comfortable. When these are put in place, many tourists will be happy to travel down there and also recommend those places to other people.
High cost tourism destinations
To attract more tourists to our tourist destinations, the cost of entry and various souvenirs should be reduced at tourist sites. Quite often, tourists are faced with the challenge of having to pay very high fees before they are allowed entry into the tourist sites.
They are also charged high prices when they purchase souvenirs. Authorities must ensure that prices are made affordable enough and souvenirs not overpriced to ensure that more people are able to visit these sites and generate more revenue.