Everyone is anxious. The uncertainty and unpredictability that surrounds the 2016 General elections in Ghana has plunged businesses into a state of panic and conservation.
In as much as they want to make the most of this season very close to Christmas, they are also very mindful of the challenges they face due to the impact of the elections. Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online hotel booking website discusses some of the projected impacts the elections will have on the tourism and Hospitality industry.
Reduced inflow of tourists
The word ‘’elections’’ is often surrounded by a general stigma of fear, chaos and anxiety. In every part of the world, the electioneering period is a brief period of dip in almost every sector of life. A lot of activities are put on hold and investors/businessmen are reluctant to travel or do business in such countries at this time.
They often even analyse the effects of the election and wait till a while after the results are declared to make a move on their businesses. The Tourism and hospitality industry also suffers greatly at this time. Ghana recorded a 15.5% increase in international tourist arrivals between 2009 and 2011, according to the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA). However, in 2012, which was an election year, the figures dwindled slightly and the number of international arrivals decreased by 10%.
Projected depreciation of the Ghana cedi
The appreciation of the US dollar at the expense of the Ghanaian Cedi in recent months can be attributed to several economic reasons. Although the Ghanaian Cedi has stood its own against other major foreign currencies, this trend is unlikely to continue as more and more Cedis are pumped into Ghana’s economy to conduct and properly manage the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
The likelihood that this will adversely affect Tourism in Ghana is high. The cost of many tourist destinations in Ghana will be seen as expensive when compared to other African countries. The cost of gate fares, food and other things that make tourists comfortable will come at a high cost. During such times, exports are reduced while the importation of goods is usually on the rise. General economic activities slow down which affects all other sectors with Tourism and Hospitality taking the heaviest hit since the festive season beckons and that usually is fertile ground for good business. Tourism is the 4th highest foreign exchange earner after gold, cocoa and oil.
During election years, planned travel is normally at a considerable low rate as compared to other years. Many people prefer to travel last minute and impulsively rather than plan weeks ahead. This may be due to the uncertainty of the general effects of the election or other economic factors. No matter the reason, travel and tour as well as hotel booking companies should be well equipped to handle last minute pressure through real time pricing, customer service support and other travel arrangements.
The closeness of the elections to the Christmas festivities also presents a tricky situation to many businesses in the Tourism and Hospitality industries. While these businesses want to provide discounts and strategies to attract more travelers into their hotels and restaurants, they are also mindful of the fact that over expectation may lead to huge losses via cost production and maintenance.
Ghana is a very peaceful country and aside the little expected pockets of violence that usually comes with elections, this year is expected to follow a similar trend by being free and fair. Don’t be indecisive about travelling to Ghana. Christmas is close and it is definitely a great time to visit the land of gold.