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Opinions of Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Columnist: Adede, Mercy Bolus

Kotoka International Airport - A welcoming place?

With reference to an article I wrote back in 2008 as below, I wish to appeal to the current Government to address issues suggested in order to improve our Airports. We need strategic leaders in our main tourist attractions sites, services etc . I trust having the leaders would establish organisational structures, allocate resources, and communicate strategic vision. Ghana needs leaders of this kind who have the ability to anticipate, envision, maintain flexibility, think strategically, and above all work with others to initiate changes that will create a viable future for the organisation. This is because our Airports need a continuous improvement strategy so let us challenge current practices and seeks what it best of all the stakeholders. Are we listening to the demands of the service users and suppliers etc? How could we make the difference to add value to our services at Ghana Airports? This is why I strongly believe that we need a strategic leadership, which is by itself a multifaceted competency that has many nuances and subtleties, thus making it difficult to easily codify. Could we perhaps form alliances with partners firms and building social capital to gain a competitive advantage over other players?

Is Kotoka International Airport welcoming to its customers?

By: Bolus, Mercy Adede, (2008-01-05)

More from this columnist

? I will be asking questions throughout this article because I am just playing the devil’s advocate in my efforts to finding a solution to the problems at our Airports.

Ghana is becoming the gateway to many African countries as British Airways and other foreign airlines choose Ghana for their bread and butter flights. This is of course a great business opportunities for Ghana? Why are we not cashing in on these opportunities at all by using the various marketing strategies we know?

It appears there is only one or two restaurants within the main airports. Why are we not selling the palm wines, organically grown pineapple juice mixed with orange and other locally grown fruit juice other than us selling Coca-Cola at our Airport? What is in it for Ghanaians selling Coca-Cola at our strategic locations? Is the Coca-Cola Company willing to build public toilets around our airports, city centres and villages? Why don’t we have café’s with chairs and tables and sell fresh coconut fruit juices and cocktail which could be sold in the coconut mixing perhaps pineapple juice plus orange juice or mango into the coconut. The last taste of Africa can after all be exploited at our airport. We are missing out when it comes to maximising opportunities. Why then do we encourage this sale everywhere and shun our own locally organic fruits that would give us some nutritional value and thus kicking some forms of cancers from our bodies. Why do we always have to be drinking Coca-Cola at all our important celebrations? Who is making the huge profits? Why can’t we sell our own locally grown organic fruit juice in cartons at our airport by using dispensable vending machines? Why don’t we encourage the customers to take charge of their spending while waiting to board? Our football players are becoming International Icons in the Western societies but then why are we not cashing in by selling T shirts and other memorabilia at our Airports? Do we provide all staff working at our Airport a compulsory quality customer training and following all the 10 principles of Marketing? This is an area we lack and therefore leave ourselves vulnerable to be labelled a third world country. Why should we not improve our standard of care we offer our customers whether they are Ghanaians or not. Why are there no ceiling funs in the hall in which travellers pick up their luggage? Does our international airport staff need quality customer care service training as they are the ones that sell Ghana to everyone who enters the country by that route? Entering into the main hall way from the aeroplane what does one see? Is Ghana cashing in on these advantages of the foreign airlines on our soil? Why can’t we employ at least 8 Ghanaians who are interior designers trained in other countries so that they could integrate their ideas and redesign our Airport? Why don’t we give people the opportunity to redesign their Airport and take the ownership and the credibility for doing so? I am confident that there are Ghanaians out there waiting to be given this opportunity? I observed that there have been significant changes at our Airport recently but there is more to be done. As I pointed out with 8 interior designers with a flare for quality standards this would transform our Airport to our own standard and be different from other Airports throughout the world. Are the Ghana Tourist Board have a stand within the Airport for tourist to pick up places of interest as they arrive?

We have seen a significant improvement having our taxi drivers in uniforms and registering their vehicles. Thanks to the initiative of the Minister who introduced it.

Do we train all our airport staff including the cleaners about first aid and resuscitation procedures and manual handling or have an ambulance standing by in case of health emergency?

Cascading benefits to other areas for example, our main hospital in Accra, the Korle- Bu Teaching hospital which rather is languishing with no beds, no bed sheets for patients, we could turn the situation into a positive one. Why don’t we start collecting loose change from visitors including Ghanaians in Diaspora leaving the country at the airport? We could introduce a huge fashionable container so that money only goes in only. We would then use the proceeds towards improving services at Korle – Bu teaching Hospital and other polyclinics in Accra.

We are we letting the rich and famous leaves our international gates free of charge and not contributing to our lack of languishing health centres for example the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital etc. Are we mad not to cash in on these opportunities at our doorstep? Even in the rich nations they use these strategies? So what are we waiting for?

Some Airports are using various strategies for example selling raffle tickets to raise money for good a cause. For example, we could use such money to renovate or improve our country. Why are we travelling all over the world and yet, failing to pick up tips from the Airports of those countries that we visit?

There is no need for Ghana to ask for loans and aids other than to use a common sense approach in getting money from people who visit our home soil. This is an area we lack the expertise of and might need help to getting to know certain strategies on money making on our own soil of Ghana. Pencils, erasers, mugs marked with where it is made on sale at our airports to promote villages, cities and the rural areas.

Our Kotoka International Airport may need to exploit all marketing techniques in order to enhance ourselves marketing skills. We need to perhaps stretch ourselves to match up to modern trends while perhaps integrating our traditions as well. Would it not be an interesting opportunity to see a model compound mud house being displayed at our airports to attract tourists or any visitors to want to visit our rural areas too. Why don’t we display panoramic sceneries at all l our Airports. For example, Panoramic scenery of the Shall Hills, The Town Quays of Takoradi thus bring the marina into the lives of our tourists as a must see place of interest. , the forestation in the Ashanti region, Display of the oldest Mosque in the North and the national Park, , capturing all the Castles, on the walls of our Airports, Panoramic picture of all our water falls, sea side resorts etc. Currently, the walls of Airport hardly say much to us as one enters the corridors to meet the customs and excise staff.

Competitors will easily emulate however, why don’t we position ourselves by cleverly marketing Ghana to provide opportunities for the temporary advantage. This is where we need to consider the micro- environment that is our core competencies and the value –chain strategies. This is why we need strategic planning with all our suppliers, customers and allies. We need to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage however; this is achieved through matching our core competences if we know them to the value –network. This is all a doable projects and worth looking into to promote Ghana to the International world. .