According to recent figures from the Hospitality report Africa released by Africa’s leading online travel agency Jumia Travel, a total of 365 hotel chain development pipelines were reported in Africa in 2016, with 64,231 rooms.
This is a 29% increase, from the 2015 figure. This implies that more and more hotels and hospitality enterprises are trooping into the continent making this industry very competitive and profitable at the same time. In Africa, foreign visitor spending stood at 36.3% in 2016 (USD 40.7 bn), and is expected to grow by 5.3% in 2017 to USD 42.9bn, and then by 5.9% pa to USD 76.0bn in 2027. In order to derive great benefits from this massive wave, it is imperative that the Ghanaian industry takes a much closer look at one aspect that draws us back. Lack of trained professionals or professionalism is hampering the growth and development of Tourism and hospitality in Ghana.
Now, let’s remind ourselves how lack of professionalism in this industry impacts its development. Firstly, lack of professionalism usually breeds bad customer service at hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites which means that most guests and tourists are more likely to be dissatisfied with service and may not come back in the future. Also these same guests and tourists are also unlikely to give good referrals to others who wish to travel to Ghana and experience the rich culture , heritage and tradition that we speak so highly of. This causes a decline in revenue and foreign exchange which hampers the development of the industry. Below are a few ways to counter such issues and ensure productivity and development of our tourism and hospitality industries.
It takes training – In Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and other giants in the African tourism industry, hospitality training institutions are widespread which offer tourism and hospitality related degrees and diploma’s. Some even go as far as the Master of Arts degrees. Here, prospective professionals are carefully trained in various areas and these courses are open to a wide range of people such as front office staff, tour guides, car rental drivers etc. Take a look at other countries such as Sri Lanka and Singapore where some taxi drivers and tour guides are university graduates. The knowledge, eloquence and open mindedness allows them to assist guests and tourists to feel more at home even in a far away land. This gives guests confidence to return to Ghana on other vacations. They are even more confident referring the country as a tourist destination to other family and friends. These countries know the value of quality service. This is something Ghana can pick up and intensify.
Standards & Regulation – Even with all the trained staff, it will also take some level of efforts from the policy makers and law enforcers to ensure strict compliance to certain codes and regulations. For instance, front office and kitchen staff at some hotels or restaurants feel reluctant to wear uniforms and aprons all the time. Some kitchen staff even don’t wear appropriate attires for work. Some also lack the facilities and technology which will aid the individuals exhibit a high sense of professionalism. It is the responsibility of certain law enforcement agencies as well as policy makers to regularly inspect and check standards at these hotels, guest houses, tourist sites and restaurants. This will ensure that they always conform to these standards and regulations and in turn better serve their guests, tourists and visitors. When all these are in place, there is only an upward path for tourism and hospitality development in Ghana.
Competition – Competition is not always negative. Sometimes, especially in hospitality and tourism development, competition is very good. When hotels, tourist sites, car rentals, airlines and restaurants improve upon their services and facilities but invest heavily in the standard of professionalism, it provides a great platform for competition. Hotel A, which may have been comfortable with a few staff who didn’t take excellent customer service and professionalism seriously will see a decline in sales because hotel B may have put in place measures to ensure a strict professionalism output and this will automatically transform into sales.
With more and more hotel chains coming into Africa and Ghana, facilities and technology alone may not be adequate. In order to stay in business, hotels have to comply and improve upon professionalism standards and ensure strict adherence to procedures as well as regular training. Tourist sites are also not left out. When a tourist visits a destination and is greeted by a well uniformly dressed guide who speaks multiple languages and is able to relate hospitably with this tourist, we are 90% assured of that person returning and referring Ghana to his family and friends. When these sites are run by trained staff who keep adequate records and manage the facilities effectively with regular maintenance, tourism and hospitality in Ghana will definitely grow massively.
Credit: Bennet Otoo, Jumia Travel