Tourism destination manager and journalist, Abeiku Santana, has revealed that though tourism is the fourth GDP earner for Ghana, the country cannot benefit far more from tourism alone if the right steps are not taken with a sense of urgency.
“It also looks like we have too much abundant tourism attraction that we do not see the value. Why do we continue to allow hunters to poach and kill our animals in the forest? This does not happen in any advanced country anywhere in the world. You drive on the streets and you see people selling all sorts of wild animals, including monkeys, that have been killed and roasted ready to be eaten as food. Monkeys from our forest reserves.
“Some even use monkeys’ blood for all sorts of meals. This cannot continue and we need to create the awareness that it is wrong. When you are going to Akosombo, you see monkeys crossing the road. Why have we not fenced the game reserve so you can drive through like a wildlife park so we can see the animals as we see in South Africa, Kenya and Zambia? If we appreciate tourism, we would have fenced it because it is not the best for us to see the monkeys and baboons just by the roadsides when driving to Akosombo,” Abeiku Santana mentioned.
Speaking in an interview about tourism in Ghana, he said, “We have heard people condemn and blame the Ghana Tourism Authority but they do not manage the tourism attractions. They are just a marketing arm. The Tourism Authority does not have the mandate to manage, for instance, the Shai Hills Game Reserve.”
Abeiku Santana explained further that Ghana currently focuses on eco, leisure and heritage tourism and pays an almost insignificant attention to the other forms of tourism, including business tourism, which is actually earning the country some huge revenues.
“If you go to our tourist sites, they are not the best places to boast about. The state of our tourist attraction in the various communities is nothing to write home about. You cannot send tourists to places that lack basic amenities and have very bad roads.
“We need to understand that tourism in an economic activity and there are different forms of tourism. There is eco-tourism, leisure tourism, heritage tourism, culture tourism, sports tourism, medical tourism, business tourism and other forms of tourism,” the ace broadcaster highlighted.
“But Ghanaians have focused more on eco, leisure and heritage tourism than the rest. This is wrong because tourism is the fourth leading GDP earner in Ghana but the money is not from the Castles and forts. Ghana is rather making money from business tourism because of the peace and stability in Ghana, we have become the base for most businesses to establish.
“The companies use Ghana as their base and then spread their wings to the sub regions. So in terms of business tourism we are doing well. But we have a lot more we can market in the areas of tourism,” Abeiku Santana added.
He said there was a need to involve chiefs, opinion leaders and all stakeholders in the tourism promotion because the challenge cannot be solved by political and government leaders alone.
“In Accra, you see huge tanks disposing human excreta into the sea and you expect tourists to come to our beaches and bath in the same sea for some of the same water to enter their mouths? No way!” he emphasized.