GHANA’S MINERALS TRAILA TOURISM PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
Introduction And Background The Ghana Chamber of Commerce has identified minerals heritage tourism as an opportunity for the sector to help educate and create awareness of its positive impact and demonstrate the mining industry‟s versatility to be integrated with other sectors such as tourism for the maximum utilization of Ghana‟s minerals resources and infrastructure outlay. The objective of this project is therefore; “to facilitate the development of a strategic tourism product that has broad ownership in synergy with other stakeholders on the theme - Historic Heritage of Mining and Railways in Ghana.” In addition to its primary key functions of Public Relations for the Mining Sector, The Chamber acknowledges it has a strategic role in facilitating this new and appropriate mining heritage tourism product, as a means of stimulating fresh investments into the tourism economy, thereby unlocking additional tourism revenue opportunities for the country. In May 2007, the Chamber decided to facilitate the development of a Ghana‟s Minerals Trail and after a search for development partners, The Ghana Association of Travel and Tourists Association (GATTA) and the Center for Innovation in Tourism Development (CITD) responded with a visit to three Mining Companies in the Tarkwa District. The visit has resulted in this initial concept of a heritage tourism product development strategy to ensure its global competitiveness. The team comprised the following: - J.B. Lomo-Mainoo (Tourism Development Planner) - Samuel Annobil (Communication and Public Relations Specialist) - Thomas Fynn (Photographer)
The team recognizes that the 15-year National Tourism Development Plan (1996-2010) and the 5-year Action Plan (2002-2007) underscore principles for a heritage tourism development of Mining and Railway, which can be translated into a more direct, practical and implemental action plan with this project. The project therefore seeks to achieve the primary objective of the National Tourism Development Plan, which is to increase tourism and its impact on economic growth and poverty reduction especially in depressed and remote areas. Tourism has proved to be a major tool that tackles poverty at its very core and one of the three pillars identified by Government for its economic growth and poverty reduction vision. This Mineral Trail by Rail Tours will take tourism to rural mining communities and provide alternative means of income and livelihood. The project will also help educate civil society on the positive impact of mining as an economic activity as well as efforts of mining establishments to regenerate the environment impacted by open cast mining. Research for the preparation of this Tourism Product Development Strategy included site visits and interviews with various actors at 3 mining establishments and the Ghana Railway Company. It was realized that, whilst there was generally a high-level of support for recreational development and growth, tourism was mainly occurring in an ad-hoc and independent manner. There also appeared to be more public relations visits aimed at government officials and international missions, as opposed to the market driven nature of the Tourism Industry, which could deliver an increase in visitor numbers and more effective public relations.
Basic Guidelines For Developing A Sustainable MiningAnd Railway Heritage Tourism Product. Legal, policy and institutional frameworks that will address the issues of the “Minerals Trail” product ownership, operational responsibilities and entrepreneurial support for future development to meet the anticipated increasing demand for quality products and diversified experiences for visitors. Local and International demand and supply factors, including a proper assessment of the product quality, existing supply of tourist infrastructure and experiences to well known destinations such as Kakum National Park for its conservation education and lesser known sites such as Tongo Tenzuk Cultural Landscape in Upper East Region, where an active granite quarry is established. Available recreational facilities, visitor information and receptive centers that have been developed in the mining establishments. A climate within the Mines and the Ghana Railway Company, which is conducive to tourism. Address the issue of perceptions of health of the mining environment, safety of transport modes especially the railway and security of mining products especially gold bars and nuggets. Offer solutions such as directional and educational signage at the Mines to certain infrastructural impediments. Indicate how the local mining communities could benefit from tourism and assist in creating a climate that will encourage small scale local investments.
Development Strategies Develop a spatial framework for tour circuits, activities and transportation modes including air, road and rail; Develop minerals heritage tourism products in the large, medium and small scale mining areas of Ghana including traditional brass, iron and gold smiting craft villages; Identification of key tourism nodes and sites within the mining estates that will sustain the interests of visitors; Identification of key infrastructure required to enhance the product development; Identification of potential tourism sites for future private sector investment in services and facilities such as catering and accommodation enterprises; Identification of industry stakeholders to provide services and promote the tourism product within existing markets; Funding and investment strategy to kick-start the project.
Accessibility & Attraction Flow Model A Primary Tourism Product Development Strategy for the Minerals Trail is to build a reputation for its heritage tourism, which will include the need for a more focused Experience‟ for growth as a domestic, as well as an international product, with the objective of maximizing visitor numbers and creating the opportunity for associated tourism revenue especially for communities in the area. The potential increase in tourist numbers will then provide the necessary justification, through the improved opportunity of sustainability. Parallel Heritage Tourism Products particularly within the rural and other economic sectors such as agro-tourism will evolve out of the establishment of the Mineral and Railway Heritage Trail. It is also considered that this will compliment and improve the existing product mix of cultural and beach tourism within the context of “Ghana‟s Golden Experience” branding and provide the enabling environment for broadening of ownership within the tourism sector. Primary focus on infrastructure and products that will enable the growth of visitor numbers. The Strategy will therefore be strategic interventions such as rehabilitation of Railway Coaches and Lines, Restoration of disused Underground Mining Shafts as Exhibits, Development of Directional and Educational Signage, basic Visitor Receptive Facilities as terminuses for the Railway Tour Coaches and the Tarkwa Goldfields Airstrip. The strategies overleaf are recommendations for crafting the Minerals Trail Tourism Product.
Spatial Framework Planning and implementation of a Mineral Heritage and Railway Trail, which is a spatial railway corridor from Takoradi through to Tarkwa and Daaman, but eventually meandering throughout the rest of the Western and Ashanti Regions to Awaso and Obuasi, thereby linking together the diversity and variety of other historic heritage and cultural tourism sites of interest. This proposal, we believe, will truly underpin the branding of the Minerals Trail. Due to the potential uniqueness and product clustering, it is proposed that the focus of the tourism promotion should be on high quality / mid to high income / low-density tourism, offering exclusive educational and adventure tours with sensitive environmental management. This should be targeted at A income domestic and foreign tourists arriving by scheduled flights and connecting local charters to Takoradi and the Tarkwa airstrip and traveling by special tourist rail coaches from and to Takoradi. Spinal corridor routes of vehicular road networks connecting the mining establishments will provide additional accessibility without spoiling the perception of the exclusiveness of the Mineral Trail experience.
Key Infrastructure Required Infrastructure has been identified as falling into two categories: “Soft and Hard”, which have been defined as follows: Soft Infrastructure This relates mainly to intellectual, managerial, administrative and technical support that The Chamber of Mines in association with GATTA is recommended to provide on a variety of tourism initiatives that have been identified; as well as market research and other marketing related issues. The focused objective is on maximizing tourist numbers into the Minerals Tour Circuits and Destinations for the resultant tourism revenue yield, in accordance with the set goals and targets. It is considered that the „soft infrastructure‟ issues recommended below are a pre-requisite in bringing about sustainability for the recommended core product development issues. Recommendations: Managing perceptions of personal safety (Rail Travel, Site visits of mines especially open cast mines and underground mines at Obuasi) Market research of tourist source markets & their „needs‟ for a comprehensive management of the „Supply Chain‟ Ease of access of designated tourism routes Monitor product development and prioritization of models for each mining establishment.
Hard Infrastructure Hard Infrastructure relates more to the physical built requirements that are necessary to facilitate „ease-of-access‟ for tourists, as well as making it interesting and simpler for the tourists to remain in the area for longer periods. The destinations provide high quality indoor and outdoor recreational facilities at Tarkwa Goldfields and Ghana Manganese Mines, however, the area of improvement required is with the transportation modes. City Link Airline Services based in Accra is prepared to extend their charter services to shuttle tourists between Accra and Tarkwa and Takoradi. Their 17-seater plane can, however land at Tarkwa but the 30-seater plane will have to land at Takoradi. Recommendations: Improvement of aviation terminal at Takoradi, provision of receptive shed at Tarkwa Goldfields Airstrip, construction of a simple railway terminal shed at Nsuta Ghana Manganese Mines. Rehabilitation of 5 tourists coaches including the rehabilitation of a coach used by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkurumah during her visit to Ghana in the fifties. Complete rehabilitation of railway lines to Awaso and Obuasi to expand the circuit and sustain interest of repeat tourists.
Marketing The Minerals Trail Product The success of an effective Minerals Trail Tourism Product Development Strategy will be in a unique marketing strategy. Unlike a typical classic product marketing criteria, where the product is developed first followed by the marketing strategy, this product has instead been determined as a consequence of marketing imperatives. The product will therefore be packaged into distinct tour circuits each exhibiting a clear and unambiguous trail from the other. The mining establishments visited in Tarkwa have the subjective attributes of image and sense of place, which in effect lands the would-be tourist at a distinct destination. The marketing thrust will therefore have to achieve the twin objectives of selling an experience and landing the tourist by succeeding to bring visitors to the product. Situational Analysis Ghana‟s tourism policy has made it imperative for other economic sectors to integrate relevant tourism activities as a means to enhance their marketability and also educate people. A winning strategy must therefore be driven by public relations rather than the more costly above-the-line advertising campaigns. This calls for target marketing that builds synergy and manages media support and response. Essentially, the tours come down to managing the sector‟s reputation and public perception. The Minerals Train Tourism Product, as a domestic tourism activity, could be the initiative that will draw attention to the need for Public Investment Programmes (PIP) in infrastructure development for the mining towns and villages in compensation for the high tax revenue that the sector generates to government. This has less to do with the success or failure of the product branding strategy, but more to do with the mining sector‟s reputation. The erroneously perceived negative impacts of mining to the environment are likely to be eroded in the public domain as visitor experiences are recounted to opinion leaders and in the media.
Creating The Product Image A tourism image will be created as a consequence of marketing the experience and associated product of the Minerals Trail. A picture of the mining sites and products such as the rail travel, golf courses, other recreational and hospitality facilities will evoke a certain response, which will build the brand and reputation in a tangible and easily assimilated way. Branding The Product Branding of the Minerals Trail in its purest sense denotes ownership and identity of the product. Ultimately, the branded product will recall driving equity participation for the product development. The ultimate success of the Minerals Trail brand will therefore largely reflect the reputation of The Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mining Establishments, GATTA and other associated suppliers. The reputation of this brand therefore goes beyond the experience, image and branding of product. Reputation Mining towns in Ghana generally have a reputation, which has suffered at the hands of a variety of largely uncontrollable internal and external factors, like crime, high cost of living, HIV/Aids, and tardy infrastructure.
Creating The Product ImageThe tours will give the Chamber a first hand opportunity to clarify theseperceptions and positively change such perceptions wherever possible.The following are recommended five basic principles to develop a strongreputation of the Minerals Trail.Distinctiveness: The Ghana Chamber of Mines should own a distinctiveposition/image in the minds of the public.Focus: The Ghana Chamber of Mines and partners should focus theirattention and communication around a single core theme, such as“Celebrating Ghana‟s Golden Heritage of Mining”Consistency: The Ghana Chamber of Mines and partners should beconsistent in their marketing activities and communications to the public.Identity: The Ghana Chamber of Mines and all partners should act in waysthat are consistent with espoused principles of tourism product identity,which is hospitality.Transparency: The Ghana Chamber of Mines and its establishments mustbe transparent in the way the product is presented and questions areanswered.
The Marketing Strategy The Unique Marketing Plan The marketing strategy for the Minerals Trail will have to be unique. There is no case study to follow and the marketing proposition does not conform to the more widely known tenets of tourism product and/or corporate marketing. The Minerals Trail must therefore build a good reputation and positive image by promoting an exciting experience and product. Each mining establishment will be marketed as a unique sense of place within the Minerals Trail brand. Because the various mining establishments offer similar products, unique features will be identified and highlighted to attract and sustain the interest of a wider cross section of the market. For example, The unique Golf Course and disused Underground Mining Shaft of Tarkwa Goldfields, The aeration and fishing ponds of Ghana Manganese Mines and the afforested plantations of Iduapriem Mines are features that can create a unique sense of place. Each of the destinations can be subjected to close analysis to see that they deliver against the criteria needed to demonstrate experience. The Power Of Word Of Mouth A very high percentage of prospective tourists will be influenced by word of mouth and personal recommendation of the product and it is only sound if they return with positive feelings and are able to give strong recommendations. However, if they return with negative experiences or perceptions, their word-of-mouth comments will severely affect The Chamber of Mines reputation, a recipe that will create a shrinking market.
Marketing Delivery Structure A joint marketing plan for the packages will be developed and implemented through the creation of an intra-destination marketing committee. This structure should be funded and chaired by the Ghana Chamber of Mines, and ensure cost effective delivery without expensive activity overlaps, confusion of messages and duplication of efforts. Marketing Techniques The method, which will be used to get the message to the market is reliant on using three specific strategies. - Adopting Information Communication Technology techniques such as Websites, Mobile Phones, T.V. and Radio - Ensuring physical presence at Shops, Supermarkets, Restaurants, Hotels, Trade shows, Exhibitions in Accra and around the country with information brochures, posters etc. - Facilitating direct interventions with tour operators and travel agents in the country and abroad.
Push Vs. Pull Marketing The power of the internet is its ability to communicate to a mass global audience while adopting one-to-one communication principles. Pushing information via advertising to an international audience is too costly, wasteful, uncontrollable and relatively ineffective when compared to the attributes of one-on-one, or word-of-mouth communications. Almost like word-of-mouth, the internet provides the power of one-on-one communication, but through a mass medium. Internet communication is more credible as it is deeply personal, in that the internet user pulls information at his/her own discretion. Ever increasingly; the high-income potential visitor the Chamber wish to attract in Ghana and abroad will have internet capability. North America and Western Europe are both core tourist-source markets and have enough internet users to qualify as its own market segment. Digital Distribution Of Pictures And Text The term a picture is worth a thousand words has become a cliche because it is so true, especially in this instantaneous communications age, which relies on strong imagery to cut through the media clutter. Experiences and products are best communicated by using pictures and few words. Greater use will be made of available digital satellite and internet technology to distribute quality images into the computers of picture editors, input editors and news editors in travel/tourism related publications and online newsrooms throughout the word. This, coupled with the placement of expertly written editorials by well-respected individuals, will supply hungry tourism-oriented publications with material that will communicate the Minerals Trail unique experience to a global audience.
Project Funding Recommended fund raising mechanisms are as follows: Financial and logistics contributions by Mining establishments and The Chamber of Mines Government funding of PIP programmes for major cost areas such as rehabilitation of Takoradi Airport runway and lounge; and rehabilitation of railway coaches. Public fund raising through domestic and international sms text competitions to join the first couple of trips. The cost provisions given in table attached are provisional
Typical Tour Itinerary And Costing Friday 1.30 pm: Depart Accra by air to Takoradi or by road in time to join the Minerals Train to Tarkwa. Check into hotel and guest houses and meet at pool side of Ghana Manganese Mines, Nsuta for a welcome barbecue and evening cultural entertainment. Saturday 8.00 am: Tour Manganese Mines and Iduapriem Goldmines. Lunch and relaxation at Tarkwa Goldfields, optional tours of mines and sports recreation (golf, swimming, tennis, billiards etc) Dinner and cultural gala night at Tarkwa Goldfields Club House, watch special documentary on gold pour. Sunday 7.00am: Outdoor sports or attend special church fellowship Depart Nsuta by train to Takoradi with lunch and drinks on board train. 4.30pm: Arrive in Takoradi and board flight or road transport back to Accra. Cost per person Gh¢ 495 with City Link flight (Accra-Tadi-Accra) Gh¢ 355 with road transportation (Accra-Tadi-Accra) 2 nights accommodation Gh¢ 120 Rail Travel Gh¢ 40 City link Flight (Accra-Tadi-Accra) Gh¢ 150 Road Transportation (Acrra-Tadi-Accra) Gh¢ 20 Meals and Snacks Gh¢ 120 Entertainment Gh¢ 20 Ground Transportation in Tarkwa Gh¢ 5 Guide fees Gh¢ 5 Organization and facilitation fees Gh¢ 35
Typical Schools Excursion Itinerary And Costing Friday 7.00am: Depart by road from Accra to join other colleagues in Takoradi to board the Minerals Train to Tarkwa. Early lunch on board the train 1.00 pm Arrive at Ghana Manganese Mines, Nsuta for a welcome briefing and tour mines. 3.00 pm: Tour Tarkwa Goldfields and participate in sporting and local cultural exchange activities. 5.00 pm: Depart Tarkwa by road transport back to Accra. Cost per person Gh¢ 50 Rail Travel Gh¢ 10 Road Transportation (Acrra-Tadi-Accra) Gh¢ 25 Meals and Snacks Gh¢ 10 Ground Transportation in Tarkwa Gh¢ 5