Officials Of Ghana Tourism Day Dreaming At The World Travel Market in Cape Town in April 2018. Photo Credits: Voyage Afriq Media
Just the other day, I read via a friend’s wall that the museum board was laying off workers because they couldn’t make payroll. Then the other day, I visited the tourist board’s twitter account and was appalled by the lack of creativity and innovation. There is no content and the news reported there is nothing a tourist visiting Ghana would be interested in reading.
I had reached out to the ministry of tourism to share ideas that had the potential of improving the industry, but I guess no one is ready or too busy to listen and then I read even more disturbing news. But I am very concerned about the leadership and always maintaining the status quo.
On many occasions, Ghana’s leaders travel outside of the country to attend different stakeholder meetings and come back with no outcomes. Its disappointing that they do not offer younger people with vision and drive the opportunity, as its obvious what most of them go there to do.
They attend these meetings so they can take fat per diems. We must change this status quo, but I realize that nothing will happen if we don’t go ahead and create the change we seek. Just out of curiosity, what value did the CEO of the tourism authority bring back home after attending the WTM in Cape Town when he was found sleeping in an all important meeting together with his officials?
Photo Credits: Voyage Afriq Media
My interest in tourism is primarily because I am a lover of sights and sounds and been a globe trotter, I have seen on first hand how other countries have tapped into the tourism potentials of their countries and developed it. Unfortunately, the people managing tourism in Ghana, are really having a field day.
In my conversation with the organizer of the ChaleWote arts festival, with my good friend Nii Mantse, a festival that is able to attract over 10,000 people from all over the world; I asked him what relationship he had with the tourism board of Ghana and if they had acknowledged his efforts and invited him to be part of any special committee promoting tourism in Ghana. His response however, wasn’t shocking to me because on many occasions, we haven’t celebrated good effort.
“Has the tourism authority considered you as a tourism ambassador in Ghana?” , I asked. His response was simply “ It doesn’t work like that in Ghana bro”
You see, my curiosity is in the fact that the tourism authority fail to see the potential that this festival brings to Ghana every year. I am yet to see any event in Ghana that attracts such crowd like the ChaleWote Festival, yet all it gets from the tourism authority sometimes is police protection.
So I read just a while ago that the deputy CEO of the Ghana Tourism Development Company resigned because of same observations that I had made earlier. Why won’t she resign when there is a system set out to frustrate and impede your creativity and ability to thrive and make things happen?
When I read about this https://www.myjoyonline.com/business/2018/may-8th/gtdc-launch-world-invitational-golf-tournament.php I asked a few questions and it was mainly regarding innovation. I am concerned about the impact this golf tournament has on promoting our tourism when we have several golfing events every year in the country. Key to which is the World Corporate Golf Challenge organized by the ICC Ghana which has the potential of impacting more. Anyway, I think that we are not using Ghana, the center of the world phrase very well, there are a lot that can be done with this to attract a lot of tourism into this country.
You see, this thing about tourism management is simple, there are competent young people that can transform and make the tourism industry in Ghana so attractive if given the opportunity. It’s important to phase out old blood and inject new energies that can do a better job.
One of the great ways to see the sights and sound of any country is the road experience. I planned to see the country side while traveling the different States of America.
My journey began from New York and the Greyhound experience to Delaware county was great with slight hitches of the bus slowing down because of overheating. From the middle aged pleasant woman who helped me get my paper ticket from the vending machine, to meeting Jamie, the new friend I made while waiting to get on the coach, was great. Not sure if its the State I was in, but the experience in New York is nothing compared to what I received in Philadelphia.
The reception on arrival was plain and laid back at the coach station and a not responsive customer engagement. Perhaps, I concluded quickly, but I soon observed that it must be the way things are done in this State, again, I may be wrong. Everything took longer to happen, at least from my observation at the station.
30th St. Philadelphia Greyhound Station
My next Greyhound experience was on a Saturday, a day after a bad storm that affected the rail lines as well as shut down transportation in certain States, Washington been no exception. The nightmare began when my schedule was moved from 12:30 to 14:30 and the long wait in Richmond,Virginia after arriving at 23:00 and expected to wait until 5:40am the next morning to connect. I realized how serious the situation was when some passengers couldn’t hold it and an elderly woman burst out crying because of the frustrations of waiting. Certainly, been at a coach station for hours isn’t a pleasant feeling.
Thankfully, Chris from the station helped me get on the 1:00am schedule to Fayetteville where he assured me that connection to Atlanta was easy to find. So on arrival at about 5:30am on Sunday morning, I had updated my ticket to depart at 07:35am and even though I sat close to the staff and frequently went to check if the bus will be on schedule, I was disappointed to hear when I asked again at 8:00am that the bus had left! Well, I couldn’t hide my distress and vented out my displeasure to the staff whose responsibility it was to ensure that she made the announcement. While her defense wasn’t good enough, the harm had already been done and I had to wait for the 12:30pm schedule.
Richmond Greyhound Station
Its what happened during the wait that got me not only calm, but admire the leadership of Miss Whitaker, who initially was not my favorite person, but ended up liking her a lot because she took responsibility and ensured that all the passengers who were distressed, hungry and tired, had food and drinks and ensured that she made the necessary announcement to get everyone on schedule to their destinations.
So I guess, the bad experience I had of the transport company always had one person in there whose light shone and exhibited that service magic, giving me a good experience afterwards.
The driver of the South East coach from Fayetteville to Atlanta, was another humorous, pleasant middle aged man who ensured that we were relaxed for the long trip. The trip was smooth without hitches, but once again the craziness at the station in down town Atlanta was not surprising with crowded, weary and anxious passengers willing to get on their buses.
While I will not get on any long distance bus ride via the Greyhound at least not soon, I will consider a bus ride only when its with family and friends and we have to take turns driving, I think this will be a lot of fun too.
If you want a great experience, a bus trip like the one I had, will give you a lot to observe and write about, you get to understand people from different backgrounds and culture. The entire drama at the coach stations and the different blend of people from all over the world is an experience you must have as a tourist.
Please note that there usually are a lot of cancellations if you are riding the Greyhound, so pay attention and always check your schedule to avoid any surprises.
My trip to the United States is a blend of pleasure and business, but knowing me, It becomes more business than pleasure. Prior to my departure from my home country Ghana, I had sent emails to the Ghana mission in New York and Washington announcing my presence in the country and asking for the possibility of meeting the team in the embassy to discuss relevant things. Little did I know that I would be faced with the biggest challenge ever of having access to what is supposed to be my country’s high commission. Do I need any special protocol to access my states people? I am very concerned because if something as common as answering the phone becomes another bureaucratic process, I wonder where we are heading to.
From meetings in New York and getting on the phone to talk to the Ghana mission in New York and Washington, I concluded that the government of Ghana either made very wrong decisions selecting the team that works at the embassies or they have ill trained personnels working there. How do we even begin to talk about trade or tourism promotion when the first point of call, the gate way to the country isn’t responsive?
One of the key purpose of the establishment of missions, I believe is to look out for the interest of citizens, but I doubt if this is the case of Ghana as I have heard most Ghanaians living here complain bitterly about how inefficient the system is and how they have had to go through many challenges to access simple services as passport renewals.
I read on the Ghana New York website a few reasons for relocating to Ghana and it included:
A stable political environment, with established democratic institutions and systems to ensure good governance.
Abundant, adaptable, easily trainable and cost-effective labour force.
Excellent sea and air connections with Europe and the USA
A strategic and central location within the West Africa sub-region providing access to a total market of around 250 million people. A dynamic private sector willing to collaborate with foreign partners. A high degree of personal safety.
While most of these remain true, I am not too sure about how investors can be convinced to invest in Ghana when the first point of contact which usually is the missions are not ready to engage. While these observations are from my personal view and experiences, I know that many others have experienced same and agree that to attract investments, we must be ready.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel this readiness especially with our missions abroad, its almost like people forget where they are, why they are there and the agenda they are supposed to be promoting.
Must it be the case always that we must call in favors to access our own embassies to access information? and even in the cases for some of us that can call in favors, it takes a very long time to even get responses so I wonder what the missions are busy doing and not having dedicated people to come to the phone.
You see, I realized earlier that the challenge is not where Ghanaians are, but its the mindset that needs to change. If you visit the Ghana mission’s website in New York, there is a link to access relevant ministries in Ghana, key to which includes https://ghanaconsulatenewyork.org/useful_links.php but guess what when you contact the email addresses there? you are lucky if you receive a response. Is it that we are not e-commerce savvy as well, especially in a fast technologically paced global space?
On this same website, one of the very important part of any economy trade, has the website link http://www.moti.gov.gh/home/ not working so I am wondering where visitors should go to to access relevant trade information
Developing countries usually require foreign direct investments and increased market access for their goods and services to help grow their economies, and embassies play key roles in bringing these into the country. We need to have effective leadership in all our diplomatic missions. I am beginning to question the role Ghana’s missions play abroad. So let’s consider a simple scenario of a foreign investor who has heard so much about Ghana, excited about the prospects there and wanting to do some business, calls the contacts online and sends several emails and receives no response. What do you think is going to happen? Your guess is as good as mine.
Information must be readily available and accessible, we must remove all barriers that affects and limits trade in our country and foster ways of creating investor friendly relations. The typical lackadaisical Ghanaian attitude that we import abroad must stop, we must quickly adopt a global mindset of approaching business and development and endeavor as much as possible to be good stewards and ambassadors of our country. We must be meticulous with information we put out there and ensure that people are responsive. I love Ghana, committed to Ghana and will continue to work on my efforts to promote the center of the world. We must all get involved to build something great and beautiful
The agreement will according to Afreximbank president Benedict Oramah “address some of the key bottlenecks faced by African agricultural exporters, particularly small and medium-scale enterprises operating in agro-processing and light manufacturing sub-sectors, in effectively competing in international trade and increasing their participation in regional and global agricultural value chains”.
ETC is an agricultural supply chain manager specialising in African commodities. By financing ETC’s activities, the idea is to help African farmers access new regional and international markets.
Oramah describes the firm as “a catalyst for the growth of intra-African trade”, noting that it is creating “strong and reliable agricultural value chains across Africa” by bringing agricultural produce from the farm gate to processing facilities and processed and manufactured goods to the market.
Specifically, the facility will fund the sourcing, processing and transportation of soft commodities of African origin, and support procurement of key agricultural inputs, such as fertiliser, seeds and other chemicals, which would be supplied across the continent.
The facility is provided as part of Afreximbank’s intra-African trade strategy, in which the bank commits to support the emergence and expansion of export trading companies as a quick way of accelerating the growth of intra-African trade.
Namibia has banned all foreign travel by public officials as the southern African country tries to rein in government expenditure.
The ban will be in place until at least February, the country’s presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.
“No request for outbound travel by ministers, deputy ministers and other political office bearers will be considered until after the end of February,” the statement said.
“This directive is specifically in the interest of curtailing public expenditure,” the statement added.
The country’s economy is heavily dependent on mineral exports, but the global price contraction in the commodity market has affected its main exports, uranium and diamonds – leading to severe budget cuts.
The presidency said the directive applies with immediate effect.
The cash crisis has led to President Hage Geingob grounding his presidential jet. Last week, the president took a scheduled commercial flight to attend the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
The country’s defence ministry will send thousands of soldiers on leave next month because the army has run out of money to feed them or to pay water and electricity bills, The Namibian, an independent newspaper, reported Wednesday. At least seven military bases will be affected by the move, the report added.
Soldiers who are currently on leave have been told not to report back to work.
In August, Moody – the credit rating agency – downgraded Namibia’s debt status to junk.