Today , I came across a tweet by Citi Fm on the inauguration of new tourism board of Ghana , my first thought was maybe, just maybe, this new board will look into how we can use technology as an efficient and cost effective tool to boost tourism revenues.
in light of that, i decided to write an open letter to the minister …
Dear Madam Elizabeth Ofosu Adjare,
Tourism is one of the highest income earners for the Ghanaian economy , it is in fact the 4th largest Foreign Exchange earner for Ghana .
In 2012 alone it earned Ghana 2.5 billion dollars .( I am sure you know these numbers better than I do)
Sadly according to the World Tourism Org only 5% of tourist actually visit Africa . In that small pie Ghana is receiving about 1% or less .
According to World Economic Forum Ghana is 117th on the Tourism and Travel Competitive Index behind Uganda,Morocco and Egypt
So lets face it, we are not competing well as a tourist country , how do we turn 2.5 billion to 20 , 40 or 50 billion USD …….
First of All be easy to find !!!
First of all to increase revenue , we need to increase the numbers that visit Ghana and be found when holiday destinations are being decided .
Over 70 percent of holiday seekers are looking to the web and internet for information on the holiday locations, for Ghana to compete favorably and attract more than the 800,000 tourists it attracts annually we need to be found by holiday seekers when they are looking for holiday destinations!!!!
Google “holiday in Africa” or “holiday sites in Africa” and the first page brings up links to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa sites…there is no mention of Ghana until the 10th page.
Google “West African holiday” and there are more mentions of Gambia and Mali than there is Ghana .
Trip Advisor: This is the Facebook of sorts for travel where travel review destinations and hotel and these data is aggregated to help other travelers decide on destinations and find useful information on their travel .Though the website names Ghana in its top 20 destination in Africa , there are less than 2,500 reviews on Ghana as opposed to Gambia with over 12,000 reviews and traveler articles.*
Bottom line is that the information online about Ghana, is not very visible or enough to enable us to be found and to persuade holiday makers that we are indeed the destination of choice ahead of our competitors in the same space.
….we need to be found on the Web – (Search Engine Optimization SEO)
Ever wondered why some pages are ranked number 1 in a search whilst others are not .
It all depends on type of content of the website and the number of mentions of the site on the web .
We need to begin to teach and implement the art of optimizing the content of website and pages to make it easier for the web pages to served up readily in a search when a user makes a relevant search to service providers.
The Ghana tourist board has a website , errr that’s a blog post for another day …preety-ish but not very helpful
we need to engage with potential visitors :Social Media Strategy
Implement comprehensive web , internet and social media strategy .
This is beyond just having a website, Facebook and twitter pages and building mobile apps,solutions must enable Ghana actively engage with the potential tourist and holiday seekers to enable them favor Ghana as a tourism destination.
Additionally provide tourist already on holiday tools for a great holiday experience with the right and targeted information.
There a many social media channels , there needs to be planning on where the average tourist goes and how we can engage and persuade .
Honestly the psychology of the Pin interest user is different from the average Facebook user and they need to be engaged differently
Mapping and Geographical visualization of places of interest-mashup ( aka help tourist’s spend more)
Identify the relevant mashup to build which would work online and via mobile phones to enable tourist plan their vacations or to find the relevant tourist locations or services or even other tourist in their general location.
The main characteristics of the mashup are combination, visualization, and aggregation.The Mashup phenomena has proliferated to other media including maps, photos, and videos
Sample of Mash up’s
Fast Food locations in the US
4sqoogle is a Google Map that shows the nearest restaurants, bars, clubs and shops using the foursquare API.
chatter :Blog and Forums
Provide the platform and requisite information to facilitate the ease of which bloggers and visitors can recommend their experience in Ghana.
Partner with Blogging Ghana , they will be happy to help.
Training for service providers
There needs to be a lot of work, on helping service providers create web presence and effectively use technology to attract visitors and to make their trips memorable , Talk to Goggle Ghana ( Estelle and her guys have got good programs to help with this)
-Talk to me too, i have some great ideas for the service providers:
- Put yourself on the map (Google maps i mean )
- Get a Website
- Enable booking and prepayment
- Get and work your social media presence
Who is already using technology social media to boost tourism and winning?
The award-winning Pure Michigan Facebook page showcases upcoming events in Michigan, offers a sweepstakes, the ability to connect with Michigan’s tourism experts, and even an F-commerce extension with the ability to shop directly in the Michigan online store. As a result the entire Pure Michigan campaign has attracted 7 million new, out-of-state visitors to the state and generated $3.29 in tax revenue for every 1 dollar spent on Pure Michigan advertising.
Queensland’s The Best Job in the World campaign is a well known success story, based around recruiting applicants for a six-month assignment to become a Great Barrier Reef island caretaker and the winner wrote a weekly blog reporting on his adventures. It brought 8.4 million website visitors and almost 35,000 job applications, at a time when Australian tourism was down; tourism in Queensland tourism rose 20% with 50% of Australian trips now including a Queensland component.
Visit Japan 2010 /Visit Jamaica have a Facebook page that aggregates all the travel info and links you’ll ever need! The layout is clean and information is organized. It’s the first place (not Google!) I would go to when planning for a Japan trip. Get updates through the page, ask questions and share your experiences with others. Who would you trust more, the tips and views of a fellow tourist or the tourism board?
New Zealand has a YouTube channel that not only shows you great videos, it helps you plan your trip as well .The channel links you to information about New Zealand, getting to New Zealand, places to stay, and a New Zealand map.
Promoting Social Media Presence Las Vegas
Las Vegas tourism board has dedicated a significant amount of space on its official site to direct traffic to its social media accounts. It is crucial to engage potential tourists outside of a website. People are spending hours on Facebook every day, but maybe 15 minutes on websites, and only when they need them. Social sites are a great opportunity to let organizations become a part of consumers’ daily life.
Checking Tourists In (Foursquare)
. Chicago users of the Explore Chicago section on Foursquare can earn three badges, themed around the city, by visiting locations such as historic sites, film locations, restaurants and clubs. This is to help boost awareness of both the popular and less well known tourist attractions.
With more Smartphone users wanting travel-related apps, it is a good opportunity for tourism boards to start thinking of how they can value add people on the go. Well, Tourism Vancouver is already doing it! It has launched an interactive tourist guide with integrated street navigation of Vancouver and Whistler.
Ghana Statistical Service Archives