Tourist arrivals to Ghana include South Americans (Latinos), Asians, Europeans. Ghana’s all year round tropical warm climate along with its many wildlifes; exotic waterfalls such as Kintampo Waterfalls and the largest waterfall in west Africa, the Tagbo Falls; Ghana’s coastal palm-lined sandy beaches; caves; mountains, rivers; meteorite impact crater and reservoirs and lakes such as Lake Bosumtwi or Bosumtwi meteorite crater and the largest man-made lake in the world by surface area, Lake Volta; dozens of castles and forts; UNESCO World Heritage Sites; nature reserves and national parks are major tourist destinations in Ghana.

The World Economic Forum statistics in 2010 showed that Ghana was 108th out of 139 countries as the world’s favourite tourism destinations. The country had moved two places up from the 2009 rankings. In 2011, Forbes Magazine, published that Ghana was ranked the eleventh-most friendly country in the world. The assertion was based on a survey in 2010 of a cross-section of travelers. Of all the African countries that were included in the survey Ghana ranked highest. Ghana ranks as the seventieth−most stable country in the world and as the 58th–most peaceful country in the world.[

In 2011, Ghana raked in $2.19 billion ($2,019,000,000) from the tourism sector on the back of an estimated 1,087,000 million international tourist arrivals. In 2012, Ghana’s tourism sector raked-in $1.7 billion ($1,700,000,000) from 993,600 international tourists, providing employment for 359,000 people. Ghana will annually rake in US$8.3 billion ($8,300,000,000) from the tourism sector per year by the year 2027 on the back of an estimated 4.3 million international tourist arrivals. To enter Ghana, it is necessary to have a visa authorized by the Government of Ghana, except for certain business incubators and business magnates who are on business trip.

Heritage Tourism

Heritage Tourism in Ghana is composed of a festival called the Pan-African Historical Festival or “PANAFEST”. The festival is a cultural event with the intention of increasing the notion of Pan-Africanism and African development. It consists of the festival itself as well as the celebration surrounding Emancipation Day. It primarily takes place in two cities, Elmina and Cape Coast, which were the largest slave-trading forts in the nation. PANAFEST takes place over eight to nine days and begins with a ceremonial wreath laying. Events during PANAFEST include carnival day, a journey of return from those located in other nations, Rita Marley’s birthday, an academic lecture on the women and youth, a naming ceremony from people from the diaspora, and finally the “Reverential Night”. PANAFEST is a direct manifestation of Ghanaian culture. It is also the appropriation of it and capitalization by the Rawlings administration. Indeed, Rawlings’ developed international cultural festivals such as PANAFEST as a source of income for Ghana through the promotion of tourism in Ghana. It proved to be effective.

Tourism in Ghana: Appropriated Beginnings

Before the Rawlings administration, tourism in Ghana was not an effective source of income for the Ghanaian society and was thus a missed opportunity in helping to diversify the Ghanaian economy. The Rawlings administration saw this area of opportunity and capitalized on it, ultimately appropriating the Ghanaian culture and utilizing it as a source of revenue. Through the restoration of castles that were once used for the slave industry, establishment of public memorials honoring the “illustrious sons” of Ghana coupled with encouragement from the government via incentives for private investments, the Rawlings administration was effectively able to push tourism forward with the cost of capitalizing on Ghanaian culture. The tourist industry in Ghana is known to promote sustainable tourism which includes: cultural tourism, heritage tourism, recreational tourism, adventure tourism and events tourism. Cultural tourism focuses on festivals and events, whereas heritage tourism focuses on the history of the slave routes. Recreational tourism allows tourists to explore beaches and theme parks. Adventure tourism takes a look at rain forests and game parks, and event tourism focuses on resources and conferences. Many of the heritage tourism sites highlight the legacy of the African Diaspora and the social composition of communities. As a result, these studies have impacted the tourists’ connection to the heritage tourism sites by providing cultural depth to their traveling experience.

Major tourist sites

Tourism destinations in Ghana

  • Kakum National Park – National Park
  • Mole National Park – National Park
  • Ankasa National park – National Park
  • Cape Coast Castle – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Elmina Castle – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Nzulezo – UNESCO World Heritage Site