One industry that has become a major source of income and keenly competing with the traditional foreign exchange earners in this and some other countries is tourism.

Tourism has become a popular global leisure activity, and can be domestic or international.

International tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country?s balance of payments. Domestic tourism involves residents travelling only within their own country. Inbound and Outbound tourism both describe types of international tourism. Inbound tourism involves non-residents travelling within a country. Outbound tourism involves residents travelling within another country.


What then is tourism? There are several definitions of this word. Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure, or business purposes, usually of a limited duration. It is commonly associated with trans-national travel, but may also refer to travel to another location within the same country. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) defines tourists as ?people traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes.?

For the purpose of this write-up, I would like to give the reader a large spectrum of tourism ?because to the uninitiated, ecotourism is the only known type of tourism. The word ?ecotourism? will briefly be touched upon in this article, since it will be the subject of another write-up in due course.

The tourism industry has developed through the years and presently is one of the most diversified, customized and specialized industries. I would like to introduce some of the most popular types of tourism worldwide ? where tourists are categorized by the purpose of their visit.

Leisure time can be defined as ?free time?, not doing any work.  It is that time to do things that you normally have no time for in your daily life. Leisure tourism includes a holiday with the following:

Leisure activities Relaxation:  Sleeping, reading, walking on the beach, taking a scenic driveSport activities: hiking, swimming, surfing, runningVisit places of interest and local attractionsVisiting friends and relativesShopping for goods that will be used by the tourist.Trading for goods to be resold on a wholesale basisConduct business transactions e.g. visiting a client, contract negotiationsAttending a conference, exhibition or event associated with business.

A business forum

Medical Tourism involves people who travel to a different place to receive treatment for a disease, health condition, or a surgical procedure, and who are seeking lower cost of healthcare and higher quality of care. Favourite procedures in medical tourism include Cardiology, Cardiothoracic, Cosmetic Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Weight Loss, Neuron, Eye, Orthopedic Surgery, as well as Organ Transplants (kidney).

Medical tourism services include medical facilitation, travel arrangements, accommodation, transportation and tour packages.

A scene of medical tourism

Cultural Tourism, or sometimes referred to as Heritage Tourism, is the division of tourism concerned with the region?s culture, specifically the lifestyle and history of the people, their art, architecture, religion and other elements. Cultural tourism includes cultural facilities such as museums, theatres and festivals. This is one of the most popular types of tourism in Ghana and attracts tourists from different parts of the world who come to savour the country?s rich cultural heritage.

Elegant display of Ghana?s rich culture with Kente cloth

This entails an outdoor activity that generally takes place in an unusual, remote or a wilderness area. This adventurous activity can take place in the sea, in rivers, in the air, on mountains, on snow, among others, and is associated with low or high levels of physical activity. There are many types of products and services that fall within the Adventure Tourism category such as:  mountaineering expeditions, rafting, rock climbing, diving, wind surfing, paragliding and many more.

Mountain climbing activity

Wellness Tourism

Scientific ways of health improvement has indubitably given a lot of impetus to this type of tourism, which has become one of the fastest growing forms of international and domestic tourism. Wellness Tourism involves people who travel to a different place to pursue activities that maintain or enhance their personal health and wellness, and who are seeking unique, authentic or location-based experiences. Wellness tourism includes massages, body treatments, facial treatments, exercise facilities and programmes, weight loss, nutrition and mind/body programmes as well as pre- and post-operative Spa treatments.

Ecotourism is ?Responsible travel to natural (unspoilt) areas that conserve the environment and improves the well-being of local people.? The purpose of ecotourism is for travellers to enjoy the flora and fauna of the area they have chosen to go, and also to be educated about natural destinations, to provide ecological conservation and awareness, to benefit economic development, the political and economic empowerment of local communities and respect for the local culture. Here, the traveller can experience the natural way of life surrounded by natural circumstances.

Sports tourism refers to international travel either for viewing or participating in a sporting event. Examples include the Olympic games, World Cup (soccer, rugby, and cricket), tennis, to, pole vaulting, to mention but a few.

Religious Tourism or faith tourism are people of faith who travel on their own or in groups to holy cities or holy sites for pilgrimages,  crusades, conventions, retreats, religious tourist attractions or missionary work. Christians going on pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem, the Hajj (Muslims travelling to the Holy City of Mecca) and participating in the Hindu Festival in India, are typical examples of Religious Tourism.

It is the observation of wild (non-domestic) animals in their natural environment or in captivity.  It includes activities such as photography, viewing and feeding of animals. This form of tourism offers tourists customized tour packages and safaris; and is closely associated with eco-tourism and sustainable-tourism.


Other minor forms of tourism include Slum Tourism, Luxury Tourism, Agri-tourism, Geo-tourism, Culinary (Cooking) Tourism and many more.

Tourism is also a profitable industry for the following sectors and entities: the hospitality industry, tour guides, recreation, attractions, events and conferences, food and beverage, transportation, the travel trade and many more.

Efforts Being Made

Over the past two-and-a-half decades or so, successive governments in Ghana have been making frantic efforts to promote the tourism industry in an effort to place the country on the tourist map of the world. A lot of seminars, exhibitions, award ceremonies, media briefings, among other activities, have been held relative to the industry, aimed at creating national and international awareness on what the country has been endowed with, and for that matter, can showcase.

It is pertinent to take a critical look at the successes Ghana has made so far, the challenges (how they have been/are being surmounted) and the way forward for the tourism industry ? which can be termed ?invisible gold.? This will be the themes for other write-ups. Keep in touch.

 By Peter Atiemo


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