What Tourists Like and 
Dislike About Ghana
by Oti Awere

This article appeared in Ghana's top daily newspaper, the Daily Graphic, in Jan 1996. You can visit their website at www.graphic.com.gh for the current edition. It loads a bit slowly, at least from the U.S., but it is great to have them on the web!

Social psychologists inform us that when a person who is temporarily or permanently responsible for your welfare and wellbeing takes time to appreciate your likes and dislikes, it makes you feel safe, secure, comfortable and happy. These feelings make you like your host more, not to mention liking the destination more.

Being professional hosts, practitioners in the tourism industry in Ghana are alert to their responsibilities in this regard. So, in pursuance of their objective of increasing tourist arrivals information officers of the Ghana Tourist Board keep a book called Visitor Comments Book. The purpose of this book is to survey our international visitors to find out what their preferences are. At the Kumasi office, we requested over 1 000 visitors to answer 2 seemingly simple questions: WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT GHANA? WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE MOST ABOUT GHANA?

On the lighter side, one Danish student insisted that what she disliked most were fish heads. Let our restaurant and chop bar operators know that if we eat fish heads here, in the affluent world of the west fish heads are garbage and should not show their faces on the dining table.

Then the two gentlemen from Holland stated with full conviction that what they hate most about Ghana are the hills between Twifo Praso and Dunkwa. I have never been to that part of Ghana, so if you have been there tell me how these offending hills look and feel like: after all, hills are supposed to be beautiful scenic objects.

An American lady recorded that Ghana is too far from Uganda. I think some airline deceived her. A Belgium secretary hates our too numerous one way streets, so let our city mayors beware.

Now let the GAs and FANTEs get a dose of this: about four tourists responded that what they hate is KENKEY. Unfortunately they did not specify whether it is the Central Region type or the Greater Accra Region type. FUFU was lucky, it scored higher with only one respondent.

A Dutch visitor complained that there are too many churches, and some visitors hate the sight of our women beating children… how very embarrassing.

But,fellow Ghanaians, the foregoing are not our worst offences. Our highest offence as a tourist destination we can hardly rectify... it is a tiny creature of God called the mosquito. They harass both visitors and their hosts, and are universally hated.

Next to mosquitoes is the weather... it is either too hot, or too cold, or too dry, or too wet and rainy.

Can you guess the third most serious offender? Of course, the taxi driver. Nobody seems to like them except their wives. They take advantage of everybody, especially international visitors. The Ghana Tourist Board is making efforts to get our taxi drivers to collect honest charges for honest labour.

The next major complaint of tourists is Ghanaians (aided by a few refugees) begging them for money and other items like cameras, watches, clothes, pens and even medicated spectacles. A French visitor was divided in his opinion about whether the Bolgatanga - Tamale road is worse than our penchant for begging. Let us stop this. The tourists are not dripping rich, I assure you.

A large number of visitors cited bureaucracy (and visa hassles) as a major negative point. We all work for our salaries, so why do we have to resort to this horrible go and come method to force a poor tourist into favouring us with baby bribes?

Our tourists hate the garbage and the dirt, open drains and people urinating just anywhere, especially against walls, and they hate the numerous writings on public walls that say DO NOT URINATE HERE >>BY ORDER.

On a closing note for the negative side, some of our visitors hate "African time" when X'oclock means any number of hours after x o'clock. Others hate our talephones (which do not work too well).

Don't be discouraged. Tourism has a bright future in Ghana. Don't forget ,they also said what they like about Ghana. We are really good. Topping the list of what people like most is our genuine warmth and friendliness. They also mentioned friendly tour guides. They are also "mad about" our rich culture and the people. Our children also came up strongly, but definitely they should not beg. While large numbers of them like our clothing, others are in love with our markets, villages, club and Guinness beer.

A Canadian listed as his reason for coming to Ghana FUN<FUN<FUN and he insisted that what he likes about our country is EVERYTHING!