Monday, 9 January 2017

Thailand Earns Tens Of Billions Of Dollars Annually From Tourism - So Could Ghana

Most Ghanaians will be astonished to learn that as many as 32.5 million visitors travelled to Thailand in 2016 - a figure that apparently was an increase of some 8.8% on the 2015 figure. It is also forecast to earn a staggering U.S.$46.51 billion in 2016 from tourism - an increase of 15.2% from what it earned in 2015. Amazing.

If put on a proper footing  by people who know what they are about, the tourism industry in our country, also has the potential to provide Ghana with tens of billions of dollars annually, and provide jobs for millions of young Ghanaians. Literally.

This nation has so many positive attributes that could make it a fantastic holiday destination for extreme adventure lovers seeking authentic African experiences from around the world. And there are millions of such well-off young millennials around the world as it happens.

It is vital that we all work together - both the authorities and the citizenry - to stop illegal gold miners, illegal loggers and illegal sand-winners from destroying what is left of our natural heritage: which could underpin most of Ghana's tourism industry.

The question is: Why allow a few selfish and  already wealthy individuals to destroy Ghana's remaining forests and our beautiful countryside by engaging in illegal gold mining, illegal logging and illegal sand-winning - if the countryside and our beaches could attract millions of tourists? 

To give readers and our nation's new leaders an idea of what tourism earns for nations such as Thailand, this blog is reproducing an article about the impact a new wave of well-off, young independent Chinese travellers is forecast to have on Thailand's tourism industry.

It is culled from the online version of the Nikkei Asian Review. It was written by Marwan Macan-Markar, the paper's Asian regional correspondent.

Surely, we have the nous and gumption as a dynamic people  to  make Ghana as interesting and convenient a tourist destination as Thailand is, if we put our minds to it - through lateral thinking?

Could we not, for example - through a public private partnership (PPP) business model - get private-sector companies to clean up our entire coastline by removing and replacing all the sand, and maintain it in pristine condition thereafter, and share revenues from their use with coastal communities for 50 years as a turnkey deal?

Ditto use the  PPP model to improve access to all our national parks and other tourist sites by getting private-sector entities to construct and maintain new tolled plastic roads to all of them - and keep the revenues generated in return for 35 years: with free access to those tolled roads for local communities along them, who could also share in the toll revenues?

(Incidentally, plastic roads are made from the simple technology of mixing melted plastic waste with bitumen. They last  thrice as long as conventional roads; bear heavier loads; remain pothole-free during their entire lifespan; and are never be washed away by flash floods because plastic is impermeable to water. Why do we not build all our roads like that, I ask? Hmm, Ghana - eyeasem o.)

Many of those who visit our country often describe their stay here as life-changing and life-enhancing - and always recommend travelling here to their families and friends. Let us leverage that goodwill  to boost the tourism sector in Ghana - as it is an industry that can create millions of jobs for young people throughout our country.  Literally.

Please read on:

''Thailand cracks down on 'zero-dollar' tour groups

Industry eyes independent, high-spending Chinese tourists

MARWAAN MACAN-MARKAR, Asia regional correspondent

BANGKOK -- Four Chinese tourists in their 20s tuck into an early lunch of "pad Thai," a stir-fried noodle dish cooked with egg and shrimp, at a restaurant on Khaosan Road, a popular backpackers' hub in the Thai capital. Two of the women, sporting wide-brimmed sun hats, search for travel information on their mobile phones. They are planning a trip to Pattaya, a seaside resort south of Bangkok.

"This is our third day in Thailand; so far it is good," one of their male companions, using a Chinese-English translation app on his smartphone to speak to the Nikkei Asian Review, said of their six-day stay. He did not want to be named, but said they were all from Beijing on their first trip to Thailand. The trip was planned through online searches, mobile phone bookings and visits to Ctrip.com,  a popular Chinese online travel service provider.

Thai tourism officials are welcoming such Chinese travelers with an eye on the future. They are increasingly seen as the next wave to boost tourism from China, now the largest source of overseas holidaymakers in this Southeast Asian nation. ''Unlike the first wave, made up of large groups, these young holidaymakers are classified as "Chinese FITs," which means "free, independent travelers," a classification shaped by the relatively small size of a travelling party and the manner in which they plan their trips, eschewing the large package tours.

According to Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand's tourism and sports minister, Chinese FITs accounted for nearly 60% of holidaymakers from the roughly 8.9 million Chinese tourists who visited Thailand in 2016. It marks a new trend that touches a wide sector of the tourism industry because these travelers stay and spend more money, "across a larger area, including many SMEs [small and medium enterprises]," she said.

It is a wave that will help push total international arrivals to a record 32.5 million in 2016, up by 8.8% from the previous year, according to official data. Thailand's tourism revenue is forecast to hit 1.67 trillion baht ($46.51 billion) for 2016, a 15.2% increase from 2015, ensuring this sector continues to account for 10% of gross domestic product. And it affirms Thai tourism's resilience, as the country weathered a wave of deadly bombings in August in popular tourist resorts, which killed four Thais and injured many foreigners, including tourists."

End of culled  Nikkei Asian Review article by Marwan Macan-Markar.




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