Myriad reasons exist as to why we find travel and tour alluring or why we find it a necessary form of escapism, yet even through these reasons we are not absolutely sure why we are drawn to it. In its barest form, we tour and travel largely to sate our curiosity about our world. It is a purely instinctive trait innately fixed within our psyche; take this for an example, When you set foot in a new environment or area it becomes a natural response to want to know more about where you are or to explore and familiarize with this new environment.
Therein lies the process of touring, discovering, exploring and experiencing things that the new locale has to offer as a means of satisfying our curiosity. There is not a concrete answer as to why we tour but there is safety in assuming that we do so as a perfectly instinctive response to being thrust in a new, unfamiliar environment. Tourism then became the commercial structure and organization borne out of the innate need to explore our world, to familiarize and connect deeper with our surroundings and general places of interest.
The world is full of splendor and mystery, often found in areas that suspend belief effortlessly and humans, being creatures that are drawn to the bizarre and unusual take the time to tour these places. From the Great Pyramids at Giza to the Great Wall of China and to Mount Everest, visitors find themselves struck with awe and excitement and some find the experiences humbling and emotional as it resonates deeply with certain aspects of our personal lives; a person’s joy at cruising over the Lake Volta because of their love for water or swimming at a different time in their lives or a person’s love of heights takes them on a tour to Mount Afadja to conquer its precipice. The act of touring although natural, usually does not occur without a catalyst to ensure a person is in a position to even tour a new locale. Here we can find name some scenarios that almost perfectly serves as a reason to explore and tour.
One such scenario we can imagine is going on a business trip or attending a professional event. With this its often common that as a means to familiarize with the environment in which a business or professional occasion is going on, we take tours and discover new things. It also serves as a means to escape from the tedium of work and business, to relax when all professional activities are at an end. Some examples of this are conferences or workshop events that a company or business professional attends in a foreign country.
Another well known scenario is traveling on a religious or spiritual pilgrimage. For many, leaving their homes and embarking on a pilgrimage to holy sites, monasteries, temples and churches far off and away is part of their religious or spiritual activities and it holds great significance to them.
However even while on these trips, the need to tour and connect with these new locations becomes apparent as for some it serves as a way of deepening their faith or belief in these areas while for others it is a way to gain greater knowledge and experience about their destination.
Pilgrimage to the holy site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, trips to the Vatican City enclaved within Rome, or to the Shaolin Temple in Songshan Mountain, China are some examples of religious trips.
Sporting events are also a great way for people to have a chance to explore a new place, and to witness the charm of a city preparing for a sports event. Athletes, Coaches, Managers all right down to sports fans all troop to the location of which a sports event is to take place, and so it is not uncommon to find tourism in full effect here, as these visitors are probably in the new location for the first time and might want to acclimatize with their new environment. It adds to the excitement and joy of being part of a sports event or festival in a place other than what is familiar and fosters a sense of belonging with locals as they share together in the passion of the sporting event being held.
Perhaps the most common way by which touring and travel even occurs is because we do them for leisure. Sometimes there does not need to be a reason to explore a new place other than the simple fact that we just want to, at our own pace, budget and time. Touring takes place here without external pressure and tourists are free to take on adventures to their hearts delight, some prefer self guided tours while others sign up to tour groups. Either way chosen, tourism still remains prevalent in the drive to become familiar with a new and unknown place.
Understanding why people are drawn to tour and travel is a necessary step into boosting a nation’s Tourism sector for the benefit of the people, visitors and the nation’s economy. Making tourist sites safe, fun and easily accessible are some of the things that a tourism industry should be concerned with and with the above reasons why people tour we can see that Tourism in and of itself is part of our psyche and from ancient times has always been a way by which we humans connect and learn of our world.
For a true boost to a nation’s tourism sector, a lot more work is needed in ensuring that it effective and profitable from finding the right places to make a tourist attraction to maintaining and regulating existing sites to bolstering hospitality and enriching cultural values, Tourism within a nation can well become its top economic benefactor.
In Ghana, tourism plays a key role in driving the economy by way of foreign exchange generation, creating of employment avenues and wealth generation as well as stimulating other sectors of the economy. Currently the fourth largest source of foreign exchange earnings, Ghana’s tourism raked in an estimated US 2.2 million in 2015 with arrivals reaching up to 1.2 million visitors. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture under the leadership of Honorable Lawyer Barbara Oteng Gyasi has managed and sustained a vibrant tourism industry through the ministry’s able agencies.
The Ghana Tourism Authority, headed by Mr. Akwasi Agyeman is one such agency that has served well to keep the tourism industry within Ghana a leader in African tourism and an all round attraction for eager tourists far and wide. From effective vetting and licensing of tourist sites, hospitality services and institutions to event organization and authorization, the Ghana Tourism Authority has a solid grasp of the tourism sector and works diligently to ensure tourists and visitors get to experience the deep culture, absorb the firm heritage and appreciate the fascinating arts that Ghana has to offer. Beyond being innately drawn to tour, it falls on the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry to cultivate the habit of exploration and tourism within not only visitors, but in the indigenes themselves.
Conclusively, it must be known that people will always want to travel and tour, we have been doing so from the age of early man right down to the digital age we are currently in, therefore commercialization of this activity is bound to always happen. For any country, Tourism has the most potential to bridge ethnic differences, promote cultural diversity and, encourage unity and overall rake in foreign exchange hence it should not be taken lightly in order to truly reap the benefits of a vibrant Tourism industry.
Edward Koku Alao-Crystal
National Service Personnel
Corporate Affairs Department
Ghana Tourism Authority, Head Office-Accra