At 2020 Travel Show In US
Officials of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, who represented the country at this year’s New York Times (NYT) Travel Show in the United States (US), have ranked the worst ever participants by the respected organization.
Ghana Tourist Authority, Akwesi Agyeman Mrs Barbara Oteng Gyasi
The delegation, according to event organizers; New York Times, missed a great opportunity to market and sell Ghana, because their demeanor and approach at the event, showed unpreparedness having been caught during the two day event – Saturday and Sunday, busy on their phones, instead of focusing on getting customers into their booth to tell them about Ghana.
Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry with countries such as Dubai, Mauritius, Egypt, South Africa, Rwanda among others, raking a fortune out of it, but Ghana’s ranking at this year’s event held at the Jacob Javits Center, showed the unserious of the managers and officials of the institution mandated to develop and promotes Ghana’s tourism potentials both locally and internationally.
While Ghana was captured as “The Worst Booth”, a North African nation, Morocco, was rated very high among the countries, with reviewers, saying they were “by far, the most eye-catching African stand if not the best at the event”.
“The branding was there for all to see mainly driven by the Royal Air Maroc Airline. Every detail on the stands was classy with emphasis on royalty. There were gold-colored artifacts everywhere and they sold Morocco as a full package for food, culture and nature”, the review said.
The review by the NYT captioned “2020 New York Times Travel Show – African Exhibitors Review”, said while exhibitors from other African countries, worked to attract potential customers to their booths to sell products, services to them, Ghana’s delegation cared less for the two days, as though they “were on strike”.
Writing a piece on each of the participating countries, including Morocco, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, the New York Times said, there was absolutely nothing on Ghana’s booth except, a yellow tag on the wall depicting Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA).
It said after visiting all booths of the participating African countries, Ghana came out looking unprepared judging from her booth explaining that unlike their fellow compatriots from elsewhere in Africa,the Ghanaian booth was not decorated and had nothing inviting and attractive to draw the attention of customers.
From the report, no urgency was shown in them getting customers to their side to interact or market the tourism potentials of Ghana. The review, thus rated Ghana as the worst exhibitors of the show.
“By far, the worst booth at the whole show. Not too sure if the people who manned that booth were on strike or not, but they spent Saturday and Sunday nonchalantly on their phones. There was nothing to show except a yellow tag on the wall written Ghana Tourism Authority. The booths were not decorated and there seemed to be virtually nothing going on. There were about four people who sat the whole day with no effort at all to even interact with potential customers. This was by far the worst booth”, it said.
It is unclear, how much money, GTA pumped into the trip and what mandate the officials who attended the event were given vis-à-vis their knowledge and expertise, but coming on the hills of theYear of Return in 2019, many had expected a lot from GTA, had boasted about the success of the event, including saying it had made a US$2 billion from the Year of Return.
President Akufo-Addo, went on to declare “Beyond the Return“, a 10-year strategic plan aimed at building on the dividends chalked by the success of the ‘Year of Return, Ghana 2019′.
The Afro Drifter, was also at the New York Times Travel Show, looking out for new trends and exciting stuff coming out of Africa.
In particular, they were out there paying attention to how African countries were branding and differentiating themselves. While most of the European and Caribbean exhibitors, seemed to have come in as individuals, most of African stands, showed heavy involvement of their respective Tourism Boards and Associations. The South African delegation was the largest. There were Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
On Morrocco again, it said “on the second day, the Morocco stand served free food. This was open air and communal. People lined up to taste the food” adding “the dancers were always available to entertain attendees. There was food at the Moroccan stand”.
The South Africans went out of their way to find a strategic spot by the entrance and also to decorate their stand with eye-grabbing boards. South African Airways was the dominant brand at the stand and so they were rated as the best design, although there were other booths around.
The Rwanda stands, were all black with unmistakably bold “Visit Rwanda”. On one booth, there was a huge gorilla face on the background. It was very clear that they were advertising their flagship safari experience – gorilla trekking. Surprisingly, most of their materials were not about gorillas, they were actually selling Rwanda as “The Safest Destination In Africa”.
There seemed to be an effort to coordinate the branding of all the booths, even though they were manned by different companies. There was Akagera Aviation, Charleston Tours, Far Trek Africa Safaris, Mantis Collection.
Rwanda dancers also took to the stage on the first day of public exhibition. The ladies serenaded the appreciative crowd with some hypnotizing dance moves. The dances were classy and everything about Rwanda was giving out an aura of new life and new things.It was great to see Zimbabwe back on the international events trying to counter the dark narrative.
We spent some time at the stand, and nearly everybody who stopped by had either been to Victoria Falls or wanted to go and swim in the Devil’s Pool. There were only the Tourism Board and African Safari Walks, but there was a buzz around the booths with many people telling their stories about Zimbabwe.
Although, they are from South Africa, Zulu Nyala Lodge, had a standalone booth which had a lot of traffic. Four people manned the booth at any given time. They looked well-prepared and had their information at hand. Of the African booths, they looked more organized and efficient.
The Herald, is still digging to know the names of the GTA staff sent to the US, their expertise, the amount of money sunk into the trip, its objective and whether those who went on the trip are back home in Ghana.
More to Come!