Ghana Tourism Authority To Recruit Competency And Inject New Energy.

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.

 

 

 

My Greyhound Coach Experience, Traveling Through America.

Port Authority, New York City

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.

 

Ghana Moving Forward Without Aid Requires A New Paradigm Of Thinking.

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

Russia’s Mriya Resort & Spa in the Crimea has been named the best holiday hotel and resort by the World Travel Awards.

Russia’s Mriya Resort & Spa in the Crimea has been named the best holiday hotel and resort by the World Travel Awards.

The hotel won the award in the world’s leading leisure resort category. Russia’s Aeroflot airline was named the best brand and the city of St. Petersburg best tourist destination.

The Mriya Resort & Spa has won the award for the first time. Its competitors in the category were the Atlantis The Palm in Dubai, Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, the Italian Forte Village Resort and Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh Resort in Egypt.

The World Travel Awards doesn’t specify whether the Mriya hotel is Russian or Ukrainian. The Crimean hotel was opened in 2014. The resort is 30 kilometers from Yalta, and offers 422 rooms and villas in a property of 270,000 square meters.

The owners want to build a winery, a winemaking school, a wine restaurant and a cheese factory near the hotel.

In 2016, the hotel was visited by over 100,000 guests and had an 83 percent occupancy rate, CEO Grant Babasyan told Vedomosti daily.

According to Booking.com a room in the hotel costs about $230 per night.

Russia’s largest bank Sberbank spent $300 million building the Mriya hotel, and is the sole owner.

https://www.rt.com/business/412826-crimean-hotel-best-travel-award/

What Ghana Can Learn From Other Countries In Destination Marketing.

Tourism anywhere in the world is a great income generator.its an opportunity that needs more attention if it must attract tourists. While a lot of factors like peace and security make a destination attractive, branding of a destination wets the taste buds and serves as a motivation to visit a destination.

My travel around the world has given me a very good appreciation of different countries and how they prioritize tourism. Let’s for a minute focus on the Brand SA or the Maldives, we can consider Mauritius too if you like.

I love South Africa and all of it, its people as well as its sights and sounds and how their government constantly make the country attractive via promotions. Just recently while away in Europe, I experienced again awesome promotion of a country and selling points that would make you want to book your next holiday to that destination.

While my country Ghana has a lot of scenery and awesome places to visit, its promotion internationally has not been the best. Every year, we attend different tourism events, key to which is the World Travel Market (WTM) which is hosted each year in London with the potential to attract many people from different walks of life who are interested in buying tourism packages. The unfortunate thing however is that, the creativity put in to make visitors interested in Ghana, isn’t the best and least attractive.

My comparison of WTM in 2013 and fast tracked to 2017 of Ghana has seen very little improvement. The question however is, what makes it difficult for the tourism authority to implement great ideas that they see each time they travel and what are the barriers if any that prevents them from achieving them?

Let me show you what I mean. In 2013, this is how the architecture of the Ghana stand looked like.

Ghana Stand, WTM 2013

Now, let’s compare it to 2017 and see what actually changed.

Ghana Stand at WTM 2017

Look very closely and see if there has been significant change 4years on, and each time, the country visits London for the travel market, which makes me question a lot of things. Do the authority lack creativity in selling Ghana better? I think that it would be great to start a conversation in this regard.

Let me share with you the structures of other countries and you be the judge.

A bit of Malawi at the WTM 2017

To stand out and be different, Malawi decided to import a bit of its architecture from home to give people the feel and taste of the country.

A spark of Madagascar at WTM 2017

While the Madagascar stand isn’t too different from the Ghana one, compare the two and see how attractive and appealing this is. The word is not be boring, but exciting, tourism represents holiday, seeing new things and having fun, it should not be static like Ghana has depicted each year.

Finally, find below the presentation of Botswana

Botswana at WTM 2017

The little things can make significant impact if we pay attention to the details.

While I would like to show you more, I would want to end here and engage the Ghana Tourism Authority with ideas that are inexpensive and can help the country promote its tourism better to attract more. I had asked tourism expects to rate Ghana’s marketing initiative in WTM the past years and have all given a 5 out of 10 when we could be at 8 and easily with a lot of ideas that can be implemented. To be the tourism destination in the sub region, Ghana must spend time and money on promoting the destinations.

The Global Trade Community Gather At Budapest To Attend The 17th World Export Development Forum

Cross Section Of Conference Delegates

The 17th edition of the World Export Development Forum organized by the International Trade Center in partnership with the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Government of Hungary; brought together stakeholders, academia and trade support institutions as well as export promotion councils and business leaders. More than  600 delegates, from 60 nationalities gathered at this year’s forum.

The three days high profile meeting, commenced with a B2B section on the 24th of October and  later preceded on the next day with the official opening of the forum by H.E. Mr. Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of the Government of Hungary, H.E. Mr. Peter Szijjarto, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Government of Hungary and Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Center.

Prime Minister of Hungary H.E. Mr. Viktor Orban

http://www.intracen.org/news/WEDF-2017-opening-remarks/

The forum attracted speakers from different disciplines with active participation of attendants engaging  in the various plenary sections. Ghana’s involvement on the panel of the 4th plenary, Moving From Agriculture to AgriBusiness had the inspirational story of Edward Poku of Niche Cocoa in Ghana on how challenges can be the motive actor to success. He challenged Africa to be do better in 2030 in improving on  value chain addition and not only be a raw material producer.

Edmund Poku, CEO of Niche Cocoa, Ghana

One of the highlights of the forum was the pitch your idea section that had four finalists of the Young Entrepreneurs Competition, two of whom were from Africa with Michael Ocansey of AgroCenta representing Ghana and  winning the prize money of 5,000euros.

AgroCenta of Ghana,Wins Prize Money of 5000Euros

http://www.intracen.org/AgroCenta-of-Ghana-announced-winner-of-WEDF-Young-Entrepreneurs-Competition/

The forum was used to engage the Executive Director of the International Trade Center on possible working relationships in Africa and strengthening the trade relations especially for women in business in Ghana and in championing the ITC’s SheTrades initiative.

In this photo is Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of International Trade Center and Paa Kwesi Inkumsah, Senior Associate of Tradebridge Ghana Ltd.

Also,an  attraction of the forum was how Tradebridge, a private trade support institute based in Ghana with affiliate in the United States, was able to use an innovative way of creating curiosity amongst delegates with it’s popular hot red letter K that created inclusiveness and indulged many delegates to be educated on the networking platform of the organization called Kasabiz, literally meaning let’s talk business.

In this photo is Susanne Pak, Associate Communications Officer of the International Trade Center having a moment with the K