Mr Alexander Nketia, Volta Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), has said the tourism potential of the Volta Region has not been adequately exposed to the travel and leisure market.
He said the Region was at the bottom of destination preferences despite attractive tourism sites and hospitality facilities.
Mr Nketia raised the concerns during a webinar organised by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), and (GTA) on the theme: “Rebranding the Tourism Sector in the Volta Through Local participation.”
The Director said visitor numbers fell from 55,000 in 2018 to about 3,000 just before the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.
He said besides the poor road network, limited investment, and poor service delivery, the Authority had identified the lack of a “rigorous marketing and promotion strategy” as a major factor hindering the development of the sector.
Mr Nketia said collaboration was sealed with non-profit organisations, including the Development Institute, towards the creation of a tourism strategy for the Region.
He said a ‘regional tourism destination management team’ that would work with stakeholders, including the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), and the private sector to document sites for promotion was established.
Mr Nketia said the Region’s social media and online presence was being enhanced and appealed to stakeholders to work together for accelerated development of the hospitality sector.
“We want to put the Region on the face of the world so that we can get people coming here and Volta would be on the minds of people.
“Currently the presence of the Region is limited. At the moment we are not on the main triangular grid… the old regular grid… the Accra- Cape Coast- Takoradi- Kumasi. We are not part of it so if we don’t put in the extra effort, there is no way anybody is going to see us and would want to come here,” he said.
Mr Nketia said the tourism industry in the Region had unique strengths, which included the abundant nature tourism potentials, culture, and heritage attractions, and also its gastronomy, and added that it was important that host communities maintained them to attract visitors.
He also touted the Region as a potential destination for agro, and urban tourism, and said the tourism Authority would work to deepen the nightlife in Ho and other cities.
Mr Kwame Sowu, the Board Chairman of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, said a tourism strategic plan was key to identifying, positioning, and marketing the tourism potentials of the region to investors.
He said stakeholders including the AGI, RCC and the House of Chiefs must work together to produce “a strategic plan that is tenable both within and outside the Region.”
Mr Sowu called for a push for local tourism experience and said tourism items unique to the Region ought to be properly packaged.
He also said facilities and services needed to be standardised, and mentioned significant progress being made in upgrading the nation’s historic attractions and hospitality services.
Madam Fafa Motte, CEO of Memory 360 Tours, said bad roads and difficulty in accessing sites discouraged clients “even from the Region to visit.”
She noted that information on most sites was poor, while support services were also not readily available.
She called for an attitudinal change towards tourism in the Region, saying, “we need education on the need to go outdoors and create memories.”
The CEO also advocated a sustained media campaign, and competitive pricing, saying tourism clubs in schools could help instil outdoor instincts in the upcoming generation.
Mr Anthony Bells Kafui Kanyi, Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), said the Region’s tourism growth curve was promising and advised stakeholders to consider mass tourism and promotional packages to attract more clients.
“Volta has a brand in tourism but the brand is weak,” he said.
Mr Kanyi appealed to local authorities to uphold sanitation education in tourism enclaves to make them attractive and added that the GJA was identifying and promoting sites year-round.