The biggest economies in this world rely on a vibrant tourism industry that contributes immensely to its development. According to atlasbig.com, the United States of America has the highest total tourism income with over $210 billion yearly. This figure is said to contribute only 1% to the country’s GDP. This is evidence of what can be achieved in our parts of the world, where we are not doing so bad. Ghana rakes in $850m per year in tourism income, making up 1.8% of the country’s GDP.
Tourism and the economy: An intrinsic relationship
There are different types of tourism in many countries globally. Countries prioritise what nature gives them, while others create their attractions to fascinate numerous tourists worldwide. Israel, for example, is known for religious tourism, Turkey is recently more popular for its aerial tourism. The Caribbean region is also known for their beaches and resorts. In Africa, there is a booming tourism industry in Egypt for their archaeological and historical artefacts such as the pyramids, ancient mummies among others.
To revitalise Ghana’s tourism industry laden with mainly destination tourism attractions, there needs to be unique experiential expeditions for both local and international travellers. Ghana has the potential to make tourism the leading industry contributing to the country’s development and unemployment alleviations. In the words of Zurab Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), “Around the world, in countries at all development levels, many millions of jobs and businesses are dependent on a strong and thriving tourism sector”.
The impact of aerial tourism
Aerial tourism is the future of tourism in Ghana with local and international travellers embracing this new experience. It combines the pursuit of pleasure, recreation and leisure with the experience above ground level. A great example of aerial tourism, more recently, is the paragliding expedition in Kwahu in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Ghana’s celebrated Year of Return initiative which made it a major tourist attraction within Africa, attracted a huge influx of visitors from the diaspora, creating a need for the development of attractions and experiences to expand tourism options beyond the usual main activities and attractions.
A distinctively new frontier and innovation of tourism in Ghana and West Africa, which will impact travellers’ viewpoint on aerial tourism has emerged – the Hot Air Balloon ride. The Hot Air Balloon is a lighter-than-air aircraft that flies above ground and from one point to another as with airplanes. Hot Air Balloons operate best and safely when atmospheric air conditions are dry and stable with light winds. This is projected to drive intra-African and international tourists to Ghana.
The balloon ride industry has generally grown alongside the sports and leisure industry and its growth in recent years, has also been due to the general public’s unquenchable desire for adventures. Ghana boasts a rich network of historical landmarks and landscapes, cultural attractions, national parks, reserves and so on. It is important to identify alternative tourism expeditions that will help transform the tourism sector across Ghana and West Africa.
New routes and alternatives
According to experts, tourists are pursuing flights to nowhere with two things driving that demand. They are, the need to escape and the desire for normality. Flights to nowhere are seemingly increasing and Ghana can leverage that demand with creative flying affordable to everyone. Psychologists have also said that people have a natural predisposition to take actions to escape stressful situations. As borders are slowly closing down and flights being cancelled because of the ravaging Omicron variant, the desire to escape seems imminent in the near future.
MASK Heights, Ghana’s first Hot Air Balloon operator, is offering visitors a different way to see the country and giving a different experience to those keen to get out and about again through aerial tourism. Committed to the highest standards of safety, professionalism and customer service, the company holds Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) accreditation and works with international partners to create a unique experience for every passenger. All pilots have been ballooning professionals since 2011 and have safely flown many thousands of passengers while maintaining a perfect safety record.