Accidents, not good for Tourism DevelopmentDate Published: 19-04-2017
Tourism has become one of the most important and fastest growing sectors of the global economy and a major socioeconomic activity throughout the world. In Ghana, tourism typically represents around 4-7% of employment and directly contributes around 4.8 % to national GDP. The industry in 2015 was directly employing 392,000.
Safety and security are vital to providing quality in tourism. More than any other economic activity, the success or failure of a tourism destination depends on being able to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors (World Tourism Organization).
Ghana is gradually being portrayed as an accident prone country, an unsafe place to visit and the Tourism Safety and Security Initiative (TOSS) is concerned. The frequent reportage of accidents on our highways and major tourist attraction sites in recent times is endangering the existence of the travel and tourism industry.
In Ghana “our traffic laws are observed mere in breach than compliance” said a commentator on Joy FM. The Member of Parliament for Osudoku Hon. Linda Ocloo lamented “there is too much recklessness on our roads that has made me a young widow”.
11,378 road accidents were recorded by November 2016. The National Road Safety Commission says 90% of road accidents Ghana are caused by human error.
Tour operators and car rental agencies who are members of the Ghana Tourism Federation (Ghatof) have maintained rigid standards and code of conduct for their drivers and have therefore recorded 100% accident free travels over the years.
On our roads, a deadly cocktail of killer roads, unsafe vehicles, parking at unauthorized places, receiving phone calls whiles driving, over loading, fatigue driving, dangerous driving and carefree jay walking pedestrians, implies that the dream of living a long life on earth particularly in Ghana is gradually becoming a fallacy.
Ghana is an emerging tourist destination, receiving a lot of backpackers who are mostly young travelers who do not use tourist coaches but, spend time among us traveling everywhere by public transport such as buses and “trotros”, and walk on the streets with their overfed knap sacs hanging at their back as they trek. It would take the unfortunate death of one tourist and the news would go viral on the airwaves, the internet and all manner of tours to Ghana would be cancelled. Tour operators, car agencies, hotels and tour guides will all loose business; people living around attraction sites whose very livelihood depend on tourists will go hungry and government will also lose taxes.
At our tourist attractions, personnel who lack any knowledge about safety and security are seen to be managing these facilities. The incidents on the canopy walkway at the Bonsu arboretum and of late the Kintampo waterfalls are an indication that these facilities are not being managed professionally.
Following the recent General Assembly Resolution on Global Road Safely, co-sponsored by 100 governments, which proclaimed a UN decade of Action 2001–2020, the momentum for international action to reduce road traffic casualties is growing as it is now widely understood that the world is in the midst of a growing global road safety crisis.
Now is the time for the vast tourism sector, and those governments including Ghana whose economies rely on international tourism for much of their growth and development, to work to improve safety on the roads for visitors and their own nationals.
Road safety has been a government priority in most developed countries for 20–30 years. Many developed and highly motorized countries have achieved large reductions in casualties through results and science–based approaches. Sets of established interventions have developed which are known to be effective. These interventions included appropriate legislation and the enforcement of legislation to control speeding and alcohol consumption, mandating the use of seatbelts and crash helmets, the safer design of vehicles and roads and safer road use.
The negligence and ineffectiveness of law enforcement agencies is another thing to watch. For example, every weekend, teachers who should know better overload buses with innocent school children on excursions to tourist attractions. We are all waiting for disaster to strike then the entire nation will be up in arms all because, all stakeholders such as the traffic police, teachers, the Ghana Education Service and in actual fact parents to some extent, do not seem to care!
Ghana is benefiting from tourism and TOSS calls on the responsible agencies involved to make the needed interventions to ensure that our roads and attractions sites are safe for both domestic and international tourists and our total population generally. The general public also have a role to play as this is a shared responsibility such as, sounding the alarm and cautioning drivers when they break traffic rules and drive recklessly.
THINK GHANA, MAKE GHANA SAFE!
Tourism Safety and Security Initiative (TOSS)