For ages, Ghana has been described as the gateway to Africa with a tourism sector that fetches over a billion dollar annually in terms of revenue for the state, while also providing employment both directly and indirectly to millions of Ghanaians.
Undisputedly, tourists choose Ghana over other Africa countries because of the relative peace, security and safety of the country. For over two decades, Ghana has been one of the safest countries in the sub-region and on the continent as a whole, with incidence such as kidnapping and attacking of tourists none in existence though there have been pockets of violence resulting from Chieftaincy disputes. This undeniably influenced the decision of tourists to choose Ghana as a tourism destination instead of other African states.
The relative good security and tourism sector however seem to be under threat in recent years due to security concerns. The United States and Canada warn citizens to exercise high degree of caution when while in Ghana; a warning which is likely to drive many away for visiting.
Ghana has for the past one year been dealing with the rising cases of kidnappings. Citizens and even foreigners are not spared as cases of kidnappings and demand for ransom by criminals have been on the ascendancy.
It has gotten to the point where we hardly go a month without hearing of a kidnapping case in the mainstream media. What is more worrying is that most of these kidnappers seem to always be one step ahead of the security agencies, making it difficult for them to foil their plots.
The recent incident of kidnapping which involved two Canadian tourists got the Canadian Government to issue a caution to Canadians visiting the country, urging them to be extra careful with their movement when in Ghana. Last month, an Indian Businessman in Ghana was also kidnapped by some criminals who demanded for ransom for his release, but fortunately the police service was able to rescue the businessman and arrest the kidnappers.
As the country continues to battle this new canker, the consequences on the nation is dire and unimaginable. While we may not see the impact now, these constant cases of kidnappings are almost definitely going to impact our tourism sector negatively in the long run.
As the cases continue to grow in number and make all the headlines in the mainstream media, tourists are going to think twice before choosing Ghana as a tourism destination. They will most likely consider their safety and security when considering Ghana as a tourist destination. The end result is, some will opt against visiting Ghana for the fear of ending up like other tourists who got kidnapped.
In a country where tourism has been reported to be the third highest revenue earner for the state, and providing millions of Ghanaians with a livelihood, this is a chance we cannot afford to take. A decline of the sector could mean less money for development and thousands kicked out job.
We may not have gotten to that stage, but with each case of kidnapping recorded, we are getting ever closer to the doomsday.
Just as Government of Ghana requested Canada and UNICEF’s support in fighting open defecation, same has to do with the country’s security before the worst happens.