Ghana Wants to Tap Global Trendy Party Scene

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

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Tourism is big business – and one of the most resilient parts of the global economy. Despite the international economic crisis that has wreaked havoc and increased unemployment and poverty in many countries since 2007, tourism is still going strong.

The UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) (http://www2.unwto.org/) found international tourist arrivals grew by 5 per cent during the first half of 2013 from the same period in 2012, reaching 500 million arrivals.

“The fact that international tourism grew above expectations confirms that traveling is now part of consumer patterns for an increasing number of people in both emerging and advanced economies,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “This underlines the need to rightly place tourism as one of the key pillars of socio-economic development, being a leading contributor to economic growth, exports and jobs.”

One successful way to lure tourists, especially young tourists, is to nurture hubs of culture, outdoor activities, music and fashion around a holiday destination – generally one involving sun and sand. Such “party scenes” can be found in hotspots as far afield as Florida, the Spanish island of Ibiza and Koh Samui (http://www.kohsamui.com/) in Thailand. While at times annoying to local people, these groups of young tourists do bring significant wealth to smaller towns and seaside communities.

And now there are some in Africa who want to replicate this successful business formula in beach communities.

The Ghanaian fishing village of Kokrobrite (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kokrobite), located west of the capital, Accra, has become a nascent hub for a dance music scene and beach parties.

“We are organizing an all-day-long beach party with DJs, food and partying, inspired by the kind of summer jams that are held in Miami,” Basil Anthony, Chief Executive of Silky Entertainment (http://www.silkyentertainment.com/), told The Guardian newspaper. Silky Entertainment is organizer of Ghana Summer Beach Rave 2013.

“We are expecting partygoers in the thousands, and double the number we had last year. It’s going to be big.”

Other popular events include Tidal Rave (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8f5Wy3g9Y7w), aimed at university students, and an upmarket champagne party at Bella Roma beach which attracts expats and wealthy Ghanaians.

While these events have been very popular locally, ambitious entertainment entrepreneurs want to take the parties to the next level and make them truly global events, attracting tourists from around the world.

“The next Ibiza will be in Africa. It has already started,” said Andrew Tumi, also known as Won, a singer from the group Supafly.

“We are trying to recreate the good things about going to Ibiza, the music and the vibes. But more and more we are creating our own sound here, an Afro-house, reggae, African mashup… It’s really blending the African rhythm into a house scene.”

Dance music is hot right now, and is being refreshed with new trends in Afro-house and Afro-pop from across the continent. This in turn is creating a demand for parties to celebrate and enjoy the music.

The economic impact is considerable as the parties inspire other businesses to feed off the good vibrations. DJ MoBlack, who works in a nightclub in Accra, told The Guardian, “It’s not just the music, it’s a whole scene that’s on the rise – goods, fashion, jewelry – there is a style revolution happening around it. It’s a unique African vibe, but something that people everywhere can relate to.”

The impact on the tourism sector is already quantifiable. Tourist visits to Ghana grew from 400,000 a year in 2005 to 1 million in 2011.

Ben Ohene-Aryeh at the Ghana Tourism Authority (http://www.ghana.travel/) is optimistic bigger things are to come: “[The scene] is catching on well with the youth and now we hope that it will be done on a massive scale,” he said.

There is, however, a downside to this strategy: drug use is on the increase. According to the West Africa Commission on Drugs (wacommissionondrugs.org), marijuana use is on the rise as well as harder drugs such as cocaine.

It’s clear there are pitfalls to the youth-tourism strategy, but these can be managed with the right strategy – and the economic opportunities for small communities are substantial.

Resources

1) Information on drug tourism from DARA Thailand: DARA is Asia’s first and leading international destination for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Website: http://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-rehab/drug-tourism/

2) 3rd UNWTO International Conference on Tourism and the Media: How new media is shaping the news: With the rise of the new media, both the media landscape and the way stories are being told are changing. Millions of consumers now have the possibility to directly engage in the editorial process due to faster than ever evolving technology. More recently, mobile technology and a myriad of applications for smart phone devices are increasingly influencing communication flows. Website: http://www2.unwto.org/en/event/3rd-unwto-international-conference-tourism-and-media-how-new-media-shaping-news

3) The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer: A regular publication of the Tourism Trends and Marketing Strategies Programme of UNWTO aimed at monitoring the short-term evolution of tourism and providing the sector with relevant and timely information. Website: http://mkt.unwto.org/en/barometer

Tourism Investment and Business Forum for Africa: INVESTOUR is an annual tourism business and knowledge exchange platform in which representatives of African tourism and potential Spanish and Portuguese investors/partners meet to discuss about business and cooperation opportunities. Website: http://africa.unwto.org/en/event/v-tourism-investment-and-business-forum-africa-investour-edition-2014-madrid-spain

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