In spite of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ghana’s tourism industry, the sector ministry and its implementing agencies say projects to brand Ghana amongst the best travel destinations in the world remain on course.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr Akwasi Agyeman exclusively told Business Finder that even though the pandemic had thrown planned programmes out of gear, the Authority, with support from the ministry and other agencies was on course to achieve the objectives of the 10-year Beyond The Return project.
“We still have room and time to readjust some of the things we want to do. Some of the events originally planned may not be as massive as last year but we have tried to keep in touch with the African diaspora through the new normal engagements through webinars, zoom meetings, masterclasses that have been done via social media and so far if you do social listening Ghana is still top of priority, top of mind for a lot of travellers on the next destination they want to go to,” Mr Agyeman explained.
Since the airports were re-opened in September, there had been a gradual flow of people coming from the diaspora, especially from the United States of America so we are encouraged that if the vaccine that is being touted globally comes to pass and there is cure for COVID-19, the first destination people will rush to will be Ghana and that’s why we are trying to keep the conversation going, to keep Ghana top of mind, and to ensure that when people are ready to travel the, they come to Ghana.
Building on past achievements
Mr Agyeman noted that his outfit and collaborators had been true to themselves, in terms of their engagements and built on the history and work done, starting from the legacy of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, to former President Rawlings who started Panafest, and then to Joseph’s project by Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, so “what we have done is not to throw away everything we’ve done in the past, but to build on from there.”
Special focus on the diaspora
In a bid to sustain achievements made under the Year of Return, the GTA boss said the Beyond the Return steering committee had a lot of diaspora groups, such as the African American Association (AAA), Panafest Foundation represented, while the diaspora coalition was also fully represented.
That arrangement had been the magic wand, to the extent that “people feel that this was the continuation of something that was started way before and then also we have been very deliberate in whom we are engaging externally and so we use a lot of groups, influencers in the US, the Caribbean instead of scattering everywhere, we’ve been very focused on whom we want to engage so we worked with groups like the NWACP which is the Civil Rights movement that was founded by W E Dubois so they.”
That level of direct engagement had helped tremendously.
According to Mr Agyeman, part of the feedback was on local involvement so if your take one of pillars we have -celebrate Ghana the focus is more on making sure that our cultural activities and festivals is brought to bear.
"If you take Experience Ghana, where we make sure that all the events in Ghana are put on the calendar for people to travel to and the heritage sites that we have and how we can bring them into play so instead of just Cape Coast, Assin Manso we are now trying to get people to go up north, to Salaga, Golu, to Bono Manso, Assin Praso among others."