OPINION: DOMESTIC TOURISM : The Game Changer And Social Enabler
As we celebrate the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Day with great interest by World Tourism Organizations, Government Agencies, and Individuals on the theme Tourism and Rural Development, I would like to share my thoughts on this all-important occasion and the theme set for it.
Countries across the World are dependent onTourism like never before to drive recovery after bearing a heavy blow on their economy due to Covid-19 pandemic.
But as we celebrate the occasion with conscious awareness to drive home domestic tourism before international tourism, let us consider the following:
The Image of Our Tourist Sites
The character of our tourists sites is crucial to tourist participation. The environmental safety, friendliness of the people all add up to attract visitors or not. Therefore, the quality of the attraction will determine whether or not to tourist should visit the site.
We need to develop our local tourism market through branding and positioning to make it attractive. We need to add value to our museums, heritage sites among others so that there will be repeat visits.
The brand promise needs to be clear and consistent to influence local consumption.
The Price of Our Domestic Tourism Products
Pricing is one of the most important elements in the tourism marketing mix. Tourism customers rate the product at a price but the right price must satisfy both the tourist and meet the profit objectives of the tourism business.
The Government of Ghana needs to review taxes and levies of the products to make it affordable for local consumption.
The rate of a 3-star hotel in Accra for a night stay cannot easily be consumed by an average middle-income worker. Hotels are paying 17.5% VAT, 1% Tourism Levy coupled with statutory payments such as SSNIT, Tier 1 and 2, Income Tax, just to mention a few.
The cost of operating a hotel accommodation is very expensive, thereby business operators pass on the cost of their prices to customers. This makes it very expensive for local consumers.
Training and Development
The Tourism Sector enjoins various industries from Transport, Aviation, Agriculture, Catering, Food and Beverage, Accommodation, Drivers, Creative Arts, Fashion and many more.
There should be regular training programs for both skilled and unskilled artisans in the tourism business to improve the outcomes of their business operations.
Cultural assets must be preserved by engaging especially women and the youth who resides in the towns and villages of our major tourism destinations.
The capacity of the community to preserving their cultural heritage will boost tourist arrivals domestically.
Building the capacity of the communities around our culture and heritage will significantly enhance the sustainability of preservation.
There must be dialogue between residents and visitors to better understand the cultural values of the community.
Thirty years ago, tourism in Ghana was literally at a standstill, largely due to political instability and problems associated with shortages of even basic commodities.
Nevertheles tourism in Ghana has grown significantly as the largest employer in the informal sector after Agriculture, Trade and Industry.
Ghana’s tourism comes from the impact of our Food, Culture and Heritage, Creative Arts, Festivals, Beach Resorts, Hotels and the like.
It is significant to note that tourism is a major economic activity as an agent of change, a social enabler and a major income generating venture for social progress.
The success and sustainability of Local Tourism and Development shall always hinge on Management co-operation with all stakeholders.
A shared vision, willingness to work together to achieve stated goals through work delivery via evaluations and measurable results is very key.
Happy World Tourism Day 2020 Celebrations.
Credit: Abeiku Aggrey Santana, Managing Director, Kaya Tours Ghana Limited