Ghana plans to open up its tourism industry to visitors from alternative markets such as Turkey in a bid to meet the country’s 15-year tourism target of eight million tourists.
Ghana has a 15-year tourism plan, which aims to increase the annual number of tourists to Ghana from current the one million to eight million per annum by 2027.
Mr Benjamin Anane-Nsiah, Special Events Manager of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), told the GNA in an interview at the 84th Izmir International Fair, that although Turkey did not have any historic linkages with Ghana, it was necessary to explore opportunities to attract tourists from that country.
It was the maiden participation of the GTA in the Izmir International Fair in Turkey.
Mr Anane-Nsiah said it was important for Ghana to discover new markets, aside the established generating markets, like the United Kingdom, America, Nigeria, France and Norway.
“We have to get as many tourists as we can from wherever they are coming from. Although Turkey looks far away and we may not have established linkages with them like we have with UK because of colonial history and America because of slave trade, we have to explore this market and also raise awareness about Ghana,” he said.
He said the GTA’s participation in this year’s Izmir International Fair was at the invitation of the Ghana Exports Promotion Authority and would afford them the opportunity to contact Turkish tour operators to get them to consider Ghana as another destination for their package.
He noted, however, that the major challenge with exploring the Turkish market for tourism was the language barrier and the lack of any historic linkages between the two countries.
But this situation is improving with the presence of many Ghanaian students in Turkish Universities and Turkish companies operating in Ghana.
Mr Anane-Nsiah said in order to develop Ghana’s tourism sector, all sectors of the economy must work in tandem.
He stressed the need for domestic tourism to be boosted in order to encourage international tourism and urged Ghanaians to orient themselves to travel around the country at least once every year.
Meanwhile, in a meeting with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Izmir, Mr. Anane-Nsiah said Ghana had a lot to offer tourists from Turkey.
He said Ghana was interested in attracting Turkish investment into building of more hotels along the coastline and other hospitality facilities as well as to connect Turkish tour operators with their Ghanaian counterparts to encourage exchange of tourists to both countries.
Mr Abdulaziz Ediz, Izmir’s Director of Culture and Tourism, who received the delegation, welcomed the prospect of collaborating with Ghana’s Tourism Authority to develop tourism in Ghana and expressed Turkey’s readiness to work with Ghana in that regard.
“Turkey’s tourism has developed fast and we are ready to share our experiences with Ghana, if we get a chance to see Ghana’s tourism potential,” he stated.
Turkey’s tourism industry records about 40 million tourists annually, bringing in some $35 billion. The industry has about 50 sub-sectors employing 2.5 million people, whilst Ghana recorded 993,600 tourists in 2013 that brought in $1.876 billion.
Under the 15-year tourism development plan, the country expects to receive 1.45 million tourists by 2017, 2.45 million by 2022 and increasing to 4.32 million tourists by 2027.
Expected revenue from tourism is $ 2.758 billion by 2017, $4.689 billion by 2022 and $8.375 billion by 2027.
Mr Ediz offered to arrange individual meetings with some Turkish tour operators in Izmir to enable them to discuss possible areas of collaboration.
Mr. Ediz said in order for Ghana’s tourism sector to develop, the country must promote itself, develop its tourism infrastructure, including affordable accommodations, restaurants, and other necessities for tourism.
He stressed the need for tourism destinations to be easily accessible and urged the GTA to start by focusing on and selling the easily accessible sites whiles developing access infrastructure to the other areas.
He urged the GTA to arrange a familiarization visit to Ghana for representatives of the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture to enable them to see Ghana’s tourism potential first-hand and to make appropriate suggestions and provide support for developing it. GNA