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Ghanaian hospitality professionals’ perceptions of international tourism impacts

Frempong, Foster, Deichmann, Joel Ian
GeoJournal 2017 v.82 no.2 pp. 273-291
coasts, computer software, data collection, economic impact, environmental impact, government agencies, hosts, infrastructure, marketing, professionals, social impact, stakeholders, tourism, tourists, Ghana
International tourism is recognized to be a contributor of utmost importance to Ghana’s economy. This paper examines perceptions of the effects of foreign visitors in Ghana, based upon data collected from Ghanaian hospitality professionals during 2014. Employing a cross-sectional research design, respondents in the tourism hubs of Accra, Kumasi, and Cape Coast are targeted through a convenience sampling technique, and the 78 resulting responses are analysed using IBM’s SPSS software. Careful attention is given to the economic, social, and environmental effects of international tourism, as viewed by Ghanaian service providers, who have the greatest contact with foreign tourists and are therefore deemed to be the most authoritative respondents. In line with expectations from the literature, tourism’s economic impact is perceived to be mainly positive. Surprisingly, respondent perception of tourism’s social impact is more negative than its environmental impact, reflecting a high level of cultural sensitivity on the part of Ghanaian hosts. Moreover, service providers perceive international visitors to behave very differently according to their country of origin. The study recommends that tour operators and government agencies help prepare visitors for traveling in Ghana and make them aware of the consequences of their behavior—both intended and unintended—to ameliorate effects that can be detrimental to all stakeholders. After addressing a series of what might be considered unrealistic expectations or frustrations on the part of travelers, the study also suggests that the Ghanaian government should, to the extent possible, play a more active role in managing tourism. As perceived by hospitality professionals, leaders need to invest in additional infrastructure, security, and information provision/marketing that will improve visitor satisfaction and encourage additional constructive tourism through word of mouth and return visits.