Tourism industry in Ghana has experienced a dramatic turnaround since 1996 and 2009 continued this phenomenal growth. The number of tourism visits from 2005 to 2009 has shown a steady increase with an average growth of 17%. From 428,533 international visitors in 2005, more than 800,000 people visited Ghana in 2009. In 2009, the United Nation World Tourism Organisation annual compilation singled out Ghana along three other Sub Saharan Africa countries for outperforming the world average for the year. Ghana, by its total of 802,778 arrivals and receipts of US$1,615.2million recorded in 2009, achieved a growth of 15%.
The country receives the largest number of tourists visiting Africa for cultural purposes and ranked amongst the top 10 African tourism destinations in 2008.
Ghana is currently serviced by most major airlines including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Air Namibia, Emirates, Lufthansa, Delta Airlines , Ghana International Airlines and British Airways.
Tourism is the most promising sector of the national economy, ranking as the third highest foreign exchange earner until September 2007. The sector was ranked as the fourth foreign exchange earner for Ghana, raking in more than $1.4 million in 2008 and contributing 6.2 per cent GDP.
The Tourism sector’s growth rate at an average of 17% is one of the fastest growing sectors with huge potentials of poverty reduction and wealth creation for the people. In 2009, the sector received US$1.62 million in receipts; contributed 6.7 per cent to GPD and employed 260,000 Ghanaians directly and indirectly across the country.
Ghana stands a great advantage of being the best tourism destination in Africa because of its unique slave forts and history, cultural diversity, natural environment and political stability among other things. The WTTC projected that in 2021 international tourist arrival to Ghana will be over 1,035,000.
Ghana is keen to promote non-mass tourism, focusing on sustainable tourism. Some areas for consideration are:-
a) Culture tourism - festivals, events, rural tourism
b) Heritage tourism with focus on the slave route
c) Recreational tourism – beaches, water sports, theme parks and golf
d) Adventure tourism - rainforest eco-tourism, game parks, white-water rafting, cruise line etc
e) Events tourism with focus on conferences, Meetings.
Resources and Facilities
Ghana has numerous game and wildlife parks including the Mole National Park located in the Northern Region. It offers visitors the unique experience of “foot (trekking) safaris". The Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary is a natural habitat for many species of wildlife, as well as for a number of migratory birds, located 16kms west of Kumasi.
Other wildlife reserves are the Shai Hills Game Reserve, Digya National Park, Kogyae District Nature Reserve Bui National Park and the Ankasa Game Reserve and Nini Suhien National Park.
There are numerous colourful traditional festivals and durbars. One such festival is the Dipo (Puberty Rites) by the Krobos. Aboakyir (Deer hunting) is by the people of Winneba. Homowo (Harvest/Thanksgiving) is a festival of “over coming hunger” by the Gas. Damba is celebrated originally to mark the birth of the Prophet Mohammed but also has a traditional character; this is celebrated in the north of Ghana. Hogbetsotso is by the Anlos tribe and signifies their migration into Ghana. The Adae (Festival of Purifying of the Ashantis' ancestral stools) is an equally great festival with much pomp and pageantry.
Ghana’s tourism industry is poised for sustained high performance in the coming decade. It is estimated that over 1,035,000 international tourist will arrive in Ghana in 2021. Ghana is the top cultural destination in Africa, as she receives the largest number of tourists who visit Africa for cultural purposes ranking amongst the top 10 tourism destinations in Africa.
The percentage of international tourist arrivals by purpose in 2008 and 2009 are presented below.
The international tourist arrivals in Ghana increased from 698,069 in 2008 to 802,779 in 2009 with the receipts for these periods as US$ 1,403.1 million and US$1,615.2 million respectively. The summary of arrivals at 30 tourists sites in 2009 totaled 514,835 and in 2008, total arrivals at 33 sites was 637,550.
In 2008 the United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands and France were the lead countries in terms of tourist arrival outside Africa. Nigeria, Cote D'Ivoire, Togo and South Africa top the list of tourist in Africa visiting Ghana. Ghana embarked on the Harmonized Standards for Accommodation and catering establishments in the Sub-region (ECO WAS) Standards for the classification of its hotels in 2006. The operators have been assisted in implementing these standards by the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB). This standardization by the operators resulted in total number of 20,788 rooms and 26, 057 beds in 2007 from a total of 1,432 hotels registered. The numbers of hotels in 2007 went up by 11.38% to 1, 595 in 2008 which resulted in the increase in the number of rooms and beds by 17.4% and 13.8% respectively. The hotel establishment increase to 1,775 in 2009 with the corresponding number of rooms and beds as 26,047 and 31,702.
There is increasing evidence that Ghana is the preferred conference destination in Africa as more organizations choose Ghana for their conferences. Statistics also show that other West African nationals prefer to do business in Ghana, which is evidenced by the increasing number of airlines servicing the country. Ghana has strong cultural and historic links with both the USA and Europe. To meet the needs of these markets, the country has developed targeted programmes and events some of which include:
• The Emancipation Day is an annual celebration of the freedom gained by Africans at home and abroad, after 400 years of slavery. The celebration which begins in the last week of July and climaxing on August 1st is the anniversary of the declaration of the emancipation of slaves. It is during this time of year when Ghana consolidates to commemorate and atone for the many lives lost to the African holocaust. Ghana's celebration of the event, the first on the African continent which began in 1998, is aimed at consistently developing a unique sense of unity, cooperation and understanding amongst Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora.
• The Unique Culture heritage (festivals, music and dance, unique art and folklore) and rich historical heritage (world heritage monuments, Pan Africanism, Etc.,).There is a renewed interest in traditional festivals and events.
• The Hang and Paragliding Festival held in the Eastern Region of Ghana during the Easter Holidays. In 2007, the festival gained the participation of 26 international gliders, attracting 7000 people. The year 2010 saw the resuscitation of the event which equally attracted a huge number of internationalgliders.
• A Regatta is organized in Elmina, Central.
Region for fisher folk, creating an opportunity to develop domestic tourism
• The older parts of Accra will be redeveloped and beautified under the Old Accra 2015 strategy.
The increasing number of tourists and the evolving profile of today’s traveler demand a host of new tourism offering and infrastructure projects. A wide spectrum of investment opportunities arise out of
Ghana’s long-term tourism plans. These include:
1. Tourist Accommodation
• Multi-hotel resorts; one each for the Volta Estuary; Accra and environs; Brenu beach in the Central Region; Cape Three Points area in the Western Region; Lake Bosumtwi in Ashanti, the Volta Lake Basin incorporating Dodi Island, Dwarf Island, Digya National Park, Melinli Peninsular, Amedzofe and Wli-falls in the Volta Region.
• Single-hotel resorts at beach sites, botanic garden sites, other lake sites etc.
• Mountain Resort- Business Hotels of all classes.
• Lodges and Inns; desirable locations include eco-tourism sites (eco-lodges in National parks), as well as other isolated tourism attraction sties and towns.
• Motels on major tourist routes.
• Hostels particularly on or near university campuses for dual use by tourists and campus students.
• Camping Sites for the trans-Saharan adventure tourists with Paga, Tamale, Kintampo Falls, Kumasi, Accra.
2. Motel and Highway Rest Stops
a) Small Scale Rest Stop: this is a simple basic road-side stop with facilities for parking; washrooms; basic refreshment, etc.
(b) Medium Scale Rest Stop: Fairly elaborate with facilities for parking, washrooms, cafeteria, shop, fuel and auto servicing.
3. Tourist Information Shops
These independent shops are in high demand in major tourist centres particularly Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast/Elimina andborder entry points.
4. Tourist Transport Services
The under-listed services are required at major tourist locations:
a) Tourist Taxi
This is highly inadequate; it may be operated by companies licensed by Ghana Tourist
Board and registered to operate from specified bases namely hotels, airport and other transport terminals.
b) Air Taxi
This is also highly inadequate but there is growing demand for it by both business and holiday visitors requiring quick visits to locations outside Accra.
c) Car Hire
The growing tourist traffic is not being matched by investments in the various categories of road transport vehicles especially tourist coaches, tourist buses, limousines, and cross-country vehicles for trekking and safaris.
d) Cruise Boats
The Volta Lake offers opportunity for the operation of various types of lake transportation for various leisure purposes such as cruise excursions or purely passenger service or for a more personalized recreation like fishing etc.
5. Tourist Travel Services
The growth of various types of tourism has created opportunities for investing in tourist handling services including:
a) Tour Guiding Services: These involve setting up a company which employs a pool of tour guides for operators, conference organizers etc.
b) Tour Handler Services: This is a small-scale operation whose services may be hired by an in-coming tour operator to handle the ground logistics required by incoming package tourists.
c) Tour Operations: This is a larger form of a tour landing outfit. In this case, the operator is required to own buses, coaches, and must have own tour packages. It requires substantial investment in office accommodation, equipment, staff outlay, considerable experience in airline and tourist travel operation as well as a substantial insurance cover.
d) Travel Agencies: This sector is almost choked with a mushroom of outfits but an enterprising new entrant can make it.
6. Tourism Financial Services
These services are in short supply and as the visitor traffic grows, there will be the need for more such services particularly:
a) Credit Card Agents or Discount Houses to offer credit to pay bills at areas which do not accept credit cards.
b) Foreign Exchange Bureau: Though these are many, there is room for more.
c) Tourism Rental Services: There is a growing demand for the rental of catering, camping, picnic accessories as well as mobile telephone and toilets in Ghana, all in the service of travelers, event organizers etc.
7. Tourism Medical Services
There is growing demand for various types of health services for visitors notable among which are:
a) Tourism health insurance companies
b) Ambulance service for tourists including the concept of the flying doctor to service remote tourist sites.
8. Food and Beverage Services
The following will be required to meet the growing demand:
a) Street Taverns, Cafes and Food Counters specializing in local snacks as well as foreign snacks.
b) Pubs: these are inadequate, such as the likes of Hard Rock Café in the US.
c) Night Clubs which offer table service with floor or live shows.
d) Fast Food Restaurants: these are becoming popular and as we receive more
American tourists, the demand for the likes of KFC and McDonalds become apparent,
e) Specialty Restaurants: especially African and Ghanaian cuisine restaurants which serve dinner are inadequate.
Accra and all major cities as well as tourist centres literally go to bed at sundown for lack of nightlife activities. There is growing demand for international class:
• Night-clubs with live shows
• Amusement parks etc.
10. Leisure & Sports
Though Ghana attracts large numbers of European, American, Asian and African tourists, they do not stay long because of lack of activity as Ghana’s tourist offer so far has been mainly sight-seeing featuring, festivals, monuments, game-viewing and nature walk. There is high demand from tourists for leisure and sporting activities to liven up their stay.
The following would greatly enhance tourists’ experiences:
a) World-class golf courses for international tournaments
b) Marinas on our Atlantic Coast, inland lakes and big rivers for sport fishing, yachting, sailing, surfing etc.
c) Theme Parks to relieve boredom.
d) Sports centres in cities offering a wide range of indoor/outdoor activities.
Surveys indicate that most visitors to Ghana return home with most of their pocket (spending) money because the country does not offer tempting shopping opportunities despite her wealth in products.
The following are required:
• Souvenir shops
• Shopping arcades
• Shopping malls
• Duty-free shops.
12. Meeting Facilities
Multipurpose convention / conference /Exhibition Centres and Halls with shopping Arcade.
Need for training centres, a greater use of e-learning channels and other more innovative and flexible ways of providing education and skills development in the Industry.
There are generous incentives specifically for this sector. Goods imported by Hotels and
Restaurants (including fast food chains with a seating capacity of thirty or more persons) under GIPC Act, 1994 (Act478) are admissible at 10% concessionary duty rate.
The items considered which should be in the appropriate quantities (relating to size, number of rooms, seating capacity etc.) are as follows: Refrigerators/deep freezers, Television sets, Airconditioners, Public
Address Systems, Furnishing (including carpets, bedding and fixtures), Fans, Radio sets and Crockery.