Ghana is no doubt a major tourism destination, not only in Africa but in the world as a whole. The country is endowed with rich and enviable tourism resources.
These resources include castles, forts, museums, national parks, natural resource reserves, beautiful beaches, rich traditional culture, festivals, and hospitable people.
The country is recognised and endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as a preferred destination in Africa.
Currently, the tourism sector is the fourth largest foreign exchange earner of the country and potentials still exist for the sector to be the topmost foreign exchange earner, if conscious and concerted efforts are made by all stakeholders.
It is becoming evident that the development of the sector over the past years had led to phenomenal growth in the number of hotels, hostels, restaurants, nightclubs, event/entertainment centres, charter flights, travel and tour, and car rental companies.
Indeed, there is now the full range of hotel ratings, from budget to five-stars in the country, especially with high concentration in Accra, Kumasi, and Takoradi.
This buttress the point that tourism and hospitality are inseparable. One of the key expectations of the guests is quality service delivery.
And so the question is; are the guests at our various tourism establishments provided the requisite quality service in order to maintain Ghana on the world’s tourism map?
The truth is that the stakeholders have no choice but to remain committed to making quality service a cornerstone of their quest to making Ghana, and specifically their particular establishment, the preferred choice, knowing very well that their industry is a highly competitive one.
Tourists will certainly move to other countries or destinations if they are not satisfied with the quality of service provided here in Ghana.
What then is quality service?
We can describe quality service as the type of service that meets or exceeds the expectations of a guest and thereby leaving a lasting memory on his or her mind.
Such a service will compel the guests to ask for more and stay longer at the destination.
Examples of quality service in the hospitality industry are; operating within clean and neat environments, warm welcome at front desks, staff wearing appropriate uniforms and name tags, well–functioning equipment and gadgets, skills and professionalism in various departments of the industry, and excellent travel arrangements.
The next concern is: How is quality service delivered in Ghana’s tourism sector?
Candidly, the delivery of quality service must assume a stakeholder approach. The tourism sector is highly social and fragmented.
There is the need for all the key players to unite and be committed to providing services that exceed the expectations of their guests.
These stakeholders include the guests, the tourism enterprise operators, tourism trade associations, the Ghana Tourism Authority, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, and academia.
Guests at the various tourism facilities in the country are of key importance. In fact, they are the raison d’etre of the tourism businesses. The needs and expectations of guests must be paramount, clearly ascertained and catered for.
It is necessary for guests to clearly articulate their needs, wants, and expectations to the tourism facility operators. For example, a guest at restaurant must not be forced to settle for a sparkling wine, when his or her thirst is for a bottle of champagne.
It is generally said that businesses exist because of their customers. Thus, in their quest to deliver quality service, it is of utmost importance that the tourism facility operators conduct market research to identify the expectations of their customers. The needs and expectations of a guest at a budget hotel may differ from that of a guest at a five-star hotel.
Of equal importance is the training of workers in the industry on regular basis. There is no guarantee for quality service delivery in Ghana’s tourism sector if the employees do not have the requisite cutting-edge knowledge, skills, and abilities.
The various trade associations such as the Ghana Tourism Federation, the Ghana Hotels Association, the Tour Operators Union of Ghana, and the Car Rental Association of Ghana, among others, must be committed to championing the course of quality service delivery.
It is well known that the country’s tourism product is not different from that of other major tourism destinations and competitors in the West African sub-region.
Adding value to the existing national tourism products and having an unbeatable passion towards excellent service delivery are what will keep the country at the forefront of tourism destinations in the world.
Furthermore, the country’s academic institutions have a pivotal role to play in ensuring quality service delivery.
As centres of knowledge and excellence, it is expected that graduates from these institutions are adequately trained to deliver on the job. It can be suggested that the curriculum for teaching and training the students must emphasise the need for industrial attachments and exposure.
The country’s tourism sector requires professionals in order to meet and exceed the expectations of its guests. In the same vein, it is necessary for both academia and industry practitioners to regularly meet and exchange views on the current and emerging trends in the tourism sector.
Another key player in ensuring quality service delivering in the nation’s tourism space is the Ghana Tourism Authority, which has the mandate to regulate the tourism sector via registration, inspection, licensing, and classification of the tourism and hospitality enterprises in the country.
As part of its functions, the Ghana Tourism Authority implements and ensures compliance with the standards; grants licences for the tourism industry, regulates and supervises tourism enterprises; regulates and monitors the activities of licensees; and investigates and takes measures to eliminate illegal, dishonourable, unsound, and improper activities.
The ultimate goal is to ensure that the guests at the various tourism facilities are provided the best of services and experiences they so desired.
Without a shadow of doubt, the success of the country’s tourism development agenda (National Tourism Development Plan, 2013-2027) hinges on a concerted and deliberate effort that ensures that guests are provided facilities and services that exceed their expectations.
Nothing will sell Ghana as the topmost tourism destination in the world than the words and memories of these guests who visit our shores. Yes, memories sell, quality memories do it.
A GNA Feature by Shine Dela Gowonu, Senior Standards and Quality Assurance Officer, Ghana Tourism Authority