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Opinions of Thursday, 24 March 2011

Columnist: Appiah, Grace

Promotion Of Tourism In Ghana

Promotion Of Tourism In Ghana: The Contribution Of Small Scale Industries And Modern Technology

By Grace Appiah

Introduction

Tourism plays a very significant role in poverty alleviation through income generation, employment and infrastructural development for the local communities where tourist attractions are located and generate revenue for the government. Globally, there is now a demand for better quality product when it comes to tourism. Ghana as a country has many breathtaking tourist attractions as a result of it natural resource endowments and also rich cultural heritages. Examples of which are the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, Kakum National Park and Canopy Walkway, Mole National Park, Paga Crocodile Ponds, Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, just to mention but a few. However, like many other African countries, Ghana has not realized the full benefit that can accrue or be derived from these attractions. It is important to note that tourism is deemed as one of the promising sectors of the national economy.

In Ghana, there has been little effort to holistically coordinate the activities of the industries that form part of the tourism product, which is the totality of tourist attractions, facilities and services. These include basically transport, accommodation, restaurants/food providers and producers/sellers of souvenirs. Each of these industries are treated as separate entities and marketed as such.

Small Scale Industries and Tourism Promotion

A tourist visiting any tourist site in a country or community spends money on accommodation, transport, food, entrance fees and souvenirs among others. The rest of the stay of tourists after visiting tourist sites is left to the care of small scale industries. Alongside the tourism sector, many industries have been established by people, especially at tourist sites, to ensure the provision of certain complementary services as mentioned above. Usually, these industries are small in nature. The services provided by these small scale industries add up to the growth and attractiveness of the tourism industry hence their inclusion in the scope of promoting tourism is vital in developing the tourism sector. Most literature available on tourism is demand side focused. They deal with the tourist. What they like to do, how much they spend and what they think of places are common topics one finds in almost all professional tourism journals. What is not so common is the supply side which focuses on firms engaged in providing touristic goods and services. Yet it is these very firms that often provide the basis for an individual’s trip satisfaction evaluation.

Modern Technology and Tourism Promotion

Globalization has seen the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) increasingly become an issue of much importance. Its use is encouraged in all spheres of operation. ICT brings a sense of association and oneness into the world economy via the internet. This is to ensure ease of circulation and acquisition of information necessary for the development of the world economy at large. As a result, many an issue of economic, social, cultural, environmental, scientific and political significance is being published on the internet. People can now sit in the comfort of their offices and places of abode and buy, sell, interact with others and transact businesses across the globe.

The use of computerized systems and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in the operations of tourist facilities in Ghana is an area yet to be fully developed. Many tourist sites in developed countries have gained their recognition as a result of modern technological know-how in their operations. These sites have gained their worldwide recognition through the employment of Information and Communication Technology and Tourism Technology in their development, advertisement and marketing. According to the Korea Tourism Organisation, Tourism Technology is a term that encompasses all social, cultural, managerial and value-adding activities of the tourism industry. Tourism Technology incorporates and encourages technological advancements and economic development in the tourism industry.

The messages to be portrayed or imparted to tourists about sites are sometimes not properly relayed. This is because sometimes these sites receive tourists from non-Anglophone speaking countries making it almost impossible for tour guides to communicate with them since these guides are trained to communicate with tourists in either English or the local dialects. The tourism industry in Ghana is yet to approach a time when information would be translated to diverse international languages via electronic medium at tourist sites to be accessed and fully understood by tourists from all walks of life.

Policy Implications

A holistic approach to coordinate the activities of all involved in tourism implies an improvement in quality, extent and means of marketing of services offered by the sector, bringing about further development of the economy. It follows that; the disjointed nature of activities in the tourism industry would bring about less quality and a slow rate of development in the tourism industry leading to decreasing rate in income realization. The tourism industry when properly developed could further employ significant portion of the nation’s population. However, the activities of the small scale industries are done in such a way that it leaves less room for expansion and increase in the intake of employees as this would lead to an encroachment on existing inputs of production, especially with respect to physical structures. The result of this is the deployment of the additional revenue that the government could have obtained from taxes and loyalties to finance development.

Sustainable Tourism

Sustainability in the tourism industry can better be explained in the light of sustainable development. Sustainable development, defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development, is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. In light of the above, the World Tourism Organisation also puts it right when it envisions Sustainable Tourism as leading to management of all tourism resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems. The benefits of tourism are not confined only to the present generation. It is therefore prudent to ensure that the tourism needs of the present are provided leading to an improvement in living standards without compromising its ability to contribute towards future development.

The development of small scale industries and the application of appropriate modern technology leading to a sustained development and promotion of tourism imply the generation of employment and general improvement in living standards through revenue and income generation. A sustained development and promotion of tourism puts the sector in a better position to receive potential investments. In order to better address the development issues of tourism in the light of small scale industrial operations and proper advertisement and marketing towards sustainable tourism, Ghana needs to;

? Bring under one umbrella all small scale industries which contribute towards tourism and encourage them to share ideas as to how their activities can be developed to better contribute to tourism promotion. The capacities of these operators should also be improved and further developed through practical training workshops and provision of incentives. ? Better adopt the E-Tourism Initiative by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to present to the world economy the tourism product of Ghana holistically and competitively. By this, tourism in Ghana would be developed such that everything pertaining to tourism would be taken care of as one package and marketed as such using the electronic media and IT as the driving force, ensuring the availability of periodically updated tourism information on the internet.

Conclusion

Efforts have been made time and again to improve upon the quality of services provided by the tourism industry. Various concerns have been raised as well as many an article written and studies undertaken on the development and promotion of tourism to realize its full potential. The question however is, how much effort has been made to consider and implement these concerns and recommendations made in articles and researches?

There are and will always be lots of people wanting a place to visit. How many of these people are willing to visit our beloved country with all its rich reserves? How are potential tourists seeing Ghana and its tourist attractions? It behooves every Ghanaian to view it as a responsibility to contribute one way or the other towards the proper array of tourism in order to better contribute towards development.