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Feature Article of Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta

Tapping Deep into our Tourism Potential in Ghana- Part 3

It is often said that statistics do not lie and for in-depth studies, comparative analysis is informative and a form of benchmarking to be aware of self appraisal in terms of best practice. It makes us Ghanaians enthuse about the fact that the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) won the 2011 best regional airport in Africa in the World Routes Awards in Berlin ( see Ghanaweb of 8th October 2012; GNA). Oliver Tambo Airport (OTA) in Johannesburg, South Africa, was declared the best airport in Africa. This prestigious award informs us to improve on our learning curve. UNWTO projects that this year 2012; world tourist arrivals worldwide will hit the 1 billion mark from the 2011 figure of 980 million.

Airlines carry 3 billion passengers every year, out of whom, one third are tourists, and 50 million tonnes of cargo was ferried. Assume each of these spends 1000 dollars on air ticket and another 1000 dollars on hotel accommodation, food, taxi fares and shopping. In total, you have 2 trillion dollars spent by tourists worldwide. If you consider the multiplier effects on the global economy, then this is gargantuan. Ghana’s tourist arrivals have grown by 15.5% between 2009 and 2011 to hit 1.087 million in 2011. The whole world received total income of $1.03 trillion dollars or 740 billion Euros from tourism, an increase of 3.8% from 2010. Business travellers from the corporate world and those attending international conferences are the big spenders.

There are celebrities and billionaires who also spend big on the luxury upper end of the tourist circuit. There are ordinary people like me who vacation less frequently and they go for budget airlines, budget hostels and hotels, budget shops, among others. The UN and its affiliates, church conventions, meetings of other religious societies, sororities, fraternities and foundations, NGOs, charities, among others, also contribute to tourist arrivals.

In Japan, Europe and USA, septuagenarians or senile people on pension, engage in globe trotting. The tourist arrivals rankings for Africa from UNWTO for 2011 reads:-
Morocco - 9.3 million
South Africa - 8.34 million
Tunisia - 4.78 million
Botswana - 2.15 million
Mozambique - 1.72 million
Nigeria - - 1.56 million
Kenya - 1.47 million
Namibia - 0.98 million


The Mediterranean or temperate areas in North Africa attract more tourists on account of ideal climate, proximity to Europe and superior infrastructure. Kenya, Botswana and South Africa on account of wild life, golden beaches, quality infrastructure and ideal climate. Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa for their seafood, marine life, water sports and pristine beaches and neat environments. Asia and Pacific are said to be the fastest growing tourist destinations as in 2011, they had 217 million tourists, recording an increase of 6.1%. The rankings for Asia and Pacific read:-
China - 57.58 m
Malaysia - 28.71 m
Hong Kong - 22.32 m
Thailand - 19.10 m
Macau (China) - 12.93 m
Singapore - 10.39 m
Indonesia - 7.65 m
South Korea - 9.80 m
India - 6.29 m
Japan - 6.22 m
Asia has a lot of cheap and quality manufactured goods and very cheap services. They also have pristine forests and beaches as well as unspoilt culture.

The Americans recorded tourist arrivals of 156.6 million, with an increase of 3.9% over 2010. The list reads:-
USA - 62.33 m
Mexico - 23.4 m
Canada - 15.98 m
Argentina - 5.66 m
Brazil - 5.43 m
Dominican Republic - 4.31 m
Puerto Rico - 3.68 m
Chile - 3.07 m
Uruguay - 2.86 m


Europe as a whole, recorded 503.96 million tourist arrivals, showing an increase of 6.2% over 2010. The rankings are:-
France - 79.50m
Spain - 56.69 m
Italy - 46.12 m
Turkey - 29.34 m
UK - 29.19 m
Germany - 28.35 m
Austria - 23.01m
Russia - 22.69 m
Ukraine - 21.42 m
Greece - 16.43 m
Despite global recession, Europe is still a great tourist destination on account of its colonial ties, rich civilization, ease of movement within the EU and its excellent facilities.

In 2011, 55.44 million tourists visited the Middle East, recording a decrease of 8% compared to 2010. This could be due to wars and instability in the Middle East. The rankings are as follows:-
Saudi Arabia - 17.34 m
Egypt - 9.5 m
UAE - 8.13 m
Syria - 5.07 m
Bahrain - 4.94 m
Jordan - 3.98 m
Israel - 2.82 m
Qatar - 1.87 m
Lebanon - 1.66 m
Oman - 1.52m

Obviously, these Middle East countries attract a lot of people on religious pilgrimages and visits to archaeological sites.

The big income earners from tourism are:-
USA - 116.3 billion (dollars)
Spain - 59.9 billion
France - 53.8 billion
China - 48.5 billion
Italy - 43.0 billion
Germany - 38.8 billion
UK - 35.9 billion
Australia - 31.4 billion
China (Macau) - 27.8 billion
Hong Kong - 27.2 billion


Finally, the biggest spenders on tourism in the world are ranked by UNWTO as the following affluent countries:-
Germany - 84.3 billion (dollars)
USA - 79.1 billion
China - 72.6 billion
UK - 41.7 billion
Canada - 33.0 billion
Russia - 32.5 billion
Italy - 28.7 billion
Japan - 27.2 billion
Australia - 26.9 billion


(Source: UNWTO website accessed on 22/11/12). These figures reflect the concept of GIGO and input-output relations. Ghana could reach her full potential in tourism if we invested heavily in it. This could be a PPP (Public-Private-Partnership) venture. Contrary to popular belief, world tourist arrivals have not been so hit by the global credit crunch which hit parts of the Americas and Europe because Africa, Asia and Pacific and South America performed better in the recession of 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Hear a quote from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) from their website on Google:-


‘Travel & Tourism is a truly global economic activity – one which takes place in destinations across the world, from leading capital cities and smaller towns and villages in rural and coastal areas, to some of the world’s largest industries, or economic sectors, contributing trillions of dollars annually to the global economy, creating jobs and wealth, generating exports, boosting taxes and stimulating capital investment. Nearly 260 million jobs worldwide are supported by Travel & Tourism – either directly in the industry or in related sectors.” (On quote from WTTC, 2011). WTTC states that despite threats and risks to tourism such as health scares, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, man-made conflicts, among others, world tourism and travel is on the upsurge and skeptics must note that man’s proclivity, propensity and inclination to venture out and discover the world, knows no limits or constraints. That, emerging markets offer hope for the future for the industry in places such as Africa, South America, Asia and the Caribbean.

The WTTC in 2011, forecast that travel and tourism contributed US $6 trillion to the global economy or 9% of global GDP growth. That, domestic or internal tourism generates ten times the number of international tourism arrivals. Tourism improves international relations, cross-cultural trade, transfer of ideas and capital, serves as alternative to agriculture, and contributes immensely to raising standards of living and increasing our knowledge of the world. This is why our traditional councils in Ghana should be encouraged to develop tourism potential in their areas by providing quality infrastructure and protecting tourist attraction sites, as well as creating conducive business environment for both local and foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

Thus, using the multiplier concept of J.M. Keynes, the $1.2 trillion dollars spent by tourists worldwide on hotel accommodation and air transport could translate into 5 times that amount to become $6 trillion. (Oxford Economics). The banking sector accounts for 11% of the global economy, the largest, followed by travel and tourism at 9%, and in third place is the automotive industry at 8.5%. (Oxford Economics). Oxford Economics forecast that over the coming next ten years, travel and tourism will overtake the banking, automotive and even the hi-tech sectors as the greatest contributor to global GDP. www.wttc.org.
Focus- World Travel and Tourism Council
www.wttc.org/. /travel tourism 2011.pdf
UNWTO Conference in Livingstone and Victoria Falls town from 24th to 30th August 2013.


Compiled and written by Kwesi Atta Sakyi Contact: kwesiattasakyi449@gmail.com

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