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Obama’s visit to Ghana - Implications for the Tourism Industry   
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President Barack Obama,the first African- American President of the USA plans to visit Ghana from July 10 -11, 2009 and this will be his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since his assumption of office. This visit will strengthen the long existing bilateral relationship between Ghana and the United States of America.

His visit will also showcase Ghana’s profile and foreign policy as one of the democratic countries to the international community as he comes with all the reputable international media houses such as the Cable News Network(CNN), Sky, Voice of America (VoA), The Washington Post,The New York Times, Reuters, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) among many others.

One may ask, is President Obama coming to Ghana because he and President Mills campaigned with a similar message of “Change” that got both into office or has he read Francis Quarshie’s Tourism in Ghana in which he wrote in the introduction” if you have ever dreamed of visiting a country in Africa south of the Sahara for business, leisure, pleasure, entertainment, conference, single/group tourist, then Ghana is the right place?” I think president Obama’s visit to Ghana opens the doors of our tourist sites to the world. This has the potential of increasing our country’s foreign exchange earnings which is about $4 billion US dollars annually. He intends to visit the Cape Coast Castle, one of the historic tourist sites, over other rich tourist sites such as the Kakum National Park, Afadzato, Paga Crocodile Pond, Wli falls, Larabanga Mosque, Elmina castle, Fort Prinzenstein, Boti Falls, Aburi Botanical gardens, Kente weaving at bonwire, Nzulezo village on stilts, Gold Mines at Obuasi, Akosombo dam, Lake Bosomtwe, Monkey Village among many others. A memory lane down the history of the Cape Coast Castle on Wikipedia reveals that the Cape Coast Castle was a fortification in Ghana. The first timber construction on the site was erected in 1653 for the Swedish African company and named Carolusborg after King Charles X of Sweden. It was later rebuilt in stone. In April 1663 the whole Swedish Gold Coast was seized by the Danes and integrated in the Danish Gold Coast. In 1664 the Castle was conquered by the British and was extensively rebuilt by the Committee of Merchant (whose Governors administered the entire British colony) in the late 18th century. In 1884, it became the seat of the colonial government of the Gold Coast. The castle was built for the trade in timber and gold, later it was used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In 1957, when Ghana became independent, it came under the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB).Inside the dungeon of Cape Coast Castle hundreds of slaves were held and arranged under inhumane conditions before being transferred to boats bound for the western hemisphere. As Obama visits this historic site we as a country especially the Ministry of Tourism must prepare to showcase this historic site to the world in order to bring thousands of tourists to Ghana and earn as some foreign exchange. They must also put some measures to upgrade the status of the castle. The NDC government in their Change manifesto on culture and tourism stated that “culture is seen as an important element in Ghana’s tourism development but without losing focus on its principal importance as an importance as an enrichment of the lives of Ghanaians. The development and growth of Ghana’s tourist industry shall be closely linked to the conservation and efficient management of the nation’s heritage resources. And the NDC is committed to preserving and protecting these rich and diverse heritages in Ghana. Specifically, tourism intervention development will include the following:

• The development and exploitation of the potential for expansion and diversification of the industry ;

• The development of new, high-value options in the leisure market, culture, heritage and eco-tourism components of our tourism industry while enhancing the existing products ;

• According export status to hotels by granting them the benefits and concessions enjoyed by export manufacturers as tourism is an invisible export. In conclusion I will like us as to reflect on what Obama said at the victory party of his election into office “the victory is not the change we seek but a chance to make the change we see”. Let Ghana therefore seize this opportunity to bring the change that promotes our tourism industry.

Mawuli Fui Kwadzovia

contact: [email protected]
Source: Mawuli Fui Kwadzovia

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