Ghana has scored a first in tourism. The country is the first African country to open a full scale tourist office in Europe. The Ghana Tourist Board opened the office in the Netherlands in September 2009 according to information copied to ghanabusinessnews.com from the office.
The office known as “Ghana Verkeersbureau” will focus on destination branding of Ghana. It also circulates information on tour operators and tourist destinations to the European consumer and media.
According to the office, the Netherlands was chosen because Dutch travellers are considered trendsetting in the eco travel market.
Tourism is important to Ghana’s economy. A former Minister of Tourism, Mrs. Azumah Mensah was quoted as saying that the sector is the fourth highest foreign exchange earner for Ghana, and the country earned a total of $1.3 billion in 2008.
And being one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy it is expected to grow at an average rate of 4.1 % per annum over the next two decades.
Moreover, Ghana is the third most important tourist destination in West Africa according to Luigi Cabrini, Director, Sustainable Development of Tourism of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO).
The GNA had reported him as saying international tourist arrivals in Ghana for 2007 was 587,000 whiles tourism receipts for the same year amounted to $908 million with an average annual growth rate between 2000–2007 pegged at 5.7 percent.
According to a B&FT report, projected tourists arrivals for 2008 was pegged at 698,069 with receipts in monetary value amounting to US$1.2 million, as against 586,612 arrivals in 2007 amounting to US$1.17 million and one million visitors were targeted for 2009.
The San Francisco based Ethical Traveller included Ghana this year on its select list of 10 developing countries that attract tourists based on ethical values, and the country’s peaceful and progressive democratic practice also makes the country a tourism destination of choice.
Last week the Ghana Tourist Board announced the formation of a tourism police task force to enforce law and order in the tourism sector and protect tourists.
If more focused and result oriented programmes are pursued, the tourism sector in Ghana can become stronger economically.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi