By Philip Gebu
It is estimated that over 2000 Ghanaian supporters made it to Qatar to support the Black Stars. The effect supporters play in driving the right mentality in footballers cannot be overlooked. Ghanaian culture has been well displayed by our supporters and as usual the sound of the trumpets and the beautiful echoing music is such a pleasure that should motivate all the Ghanaian players on the field.
How did they travel to Qatar? It’s obvious they travelled by air. Which airline? Qatar airways becomes the obvious choice though not confirmed. It is however a fact that they didn’t travel by any Ghanaian airline. Had the timing of the launch of the prospective national carrier coincided with the beginning of the world cup, the supporters would have enjoyed the new carrier. They would have obviously paid less fare compared to other airlines used. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. We wait for the future.
Presenting the budget last week, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said Ghana’s new national carrier will be called Ghana Airlines and will be launched in 2023. “Shareholders and partnership agreements were signed with the selected strategic partner for the home-based carrier, which will be known as Ghana Airlines. The airline is expected to be operationalized in 2023.”
When the successful launch takes place next year, the promotion of sport tourism must be on the agenda. We all know sports unite people and we can attest to it from the recent Black Stars performance. We all celebrated forgetting our political colors.
In understanding the role and importance the national carrier will play, data must be well analysed. Data show that the highest number of visitors to Ghana hail from North America and a direct flight from Ghana will keep the fare lower and enable tourist fly at a cheaper fare. The next market to consider must be Europe and the West African coast. The ownership structure of this new airline we are told are astute Ghanaian business men who have succeeded in their various business and understand the need to be profitable. At least since the introduction of African World Airline, we have seen that Ghanaians can own and run a successful airline. The first experiences were not positive ones and this time around we are convinced we shall be on the right course.
The role of a National Carrier
The role of a national carrier cannot be underestimated in tourism development in any nation. Sadly in Ghana, the story of our national carriers have been one associated with failure due to huge debt accumulated by our two previous national carriers and many other contributing factors. Some few years back, Ghana Airways was the pride of the continent. I remember Ghana Airways always been available to transport our various national teams, the supporters, our pilgrims and stranded Ghanaians abroad back home. Ghana Airline must also play this same role. The cheap air fares made travelling abroad affordable and that forced many other competing airlines to bring down their fares. Many foreign tourists travelling to Ghana were proud to fly Ghana Airways to experience the Ghanaian hospitality onboard. They were welcomed onboard with some Ghanaian dishes, a taste of what they were to expect whiles in the motherland. Ghana Airways Training Centre also trained many young men and women who are today doing well within the travel and tourism industry. When news of the sale and liquidation of the airline was made public to the staff, with unemployment staring them in the face, they resulted to divine intervention through prayer and fasting, regular all night sessions hoping a miracle will happen. Unfortunately, that miracle never happened and the airline was eventually liquidated.
With the introduction of Ghana International Airline (GIA) by the President Kuffour administration, there was hope and we were all excited. Unfortunately, GIA could also not stand the test of time. It also collapsed after some few years in operation. There was another hope when the Mahama administration informed us a new airlines was about to begin operations. “The proposed new national airline is expected to take to the skies in October this year. After months of preparatory works and tying up of loose ends in respect of the defunct Ghana International Airlines”, Transport Minister, Fiifi Kwetey has said. “The start of the new airline will be a key milestone in the country’s quest to deepen its participation in the aviation industry following the collapse of the erstwhile Ghana International Airlines about a decade agoPrior to the launch next year, we need to commend all those who played an important role to making this dream come true.
Economic benefits of National carriers
Aviation provides the only worldwide transportation network, which makes it essential for global business and tourism. It plays a vital role in facilitating economic growth, particularly in developing countries.
Air transport improves quality of life by broadening people’s leisure and cultural experiences. It provides a wide choice of holiday destinations around the world and an affordable means to visit distant friends and relatives.
Air transport helps to improve living standards and alleviate poverty, for instance, through tourism.
Air transport contributes to sustainable development. By facilitating tourism and trade, it generates economic growth, provides jobs, increases revenues from taxes, and fosters the conservation of protected areas.
Since the first jet airliner flew in 1949, use of commercial aviation has grown more than seventy-fold. This growth is unmatched by any other major form of transport and is essential to economic progress.
Demand for air services increases the influence of air transport on the global economy, making possible the rapid movement of millions of people and billions of dollars’ worth of goods to markets around the world.
The industry plays a decisive role in the work and leisure of millions of people. It promotes an improved quality of life and helps to improve living standards. By facilitating tourism, air transport also helps generate economic growth and alleviate poverty – providing employment opportunities, increasing revenues from taxes and fostering the conservation of protected areas.
Air transport facilitates world trade: air transport helps countries participate in the global market by increasing access to main markets and allowing globalisation of production. Air transport also encourages countries to specialise in activities in which they have a comparative advantage, and to trade with countries producing other goods and services.
Air transport is indispensable for tourism, particularly for remote and island destinations. Tourism directly supports jobs in airlines and airports, and spending of visitors arriving by air creates a substantial number of jobs in the tourism industry.
Air transport boosts productivity across the global economy: improved transport links expand the market in which companies operate. As a result, companies are better able to exploit economies of scale thereby reducing costs, and to specialise in areas of comparative advantage. By opening up markets, air services expose companies to stiffer competition, encouraging them to become more efficient.
Air transport improves the efficiency of the supply chain, for example, many industries use air transport to shorten delivery times as part of their just-in-time delivery systems, enabling them to deliver products to clients quickly and reliably and to reduce costs.
Air transport provides consumer welfare benefits to individuals in terms of the increased availability of travel connections, and for local airport communities. These must be taken into account when considering environmental impacts on, for example, air quality, noise and congestion in the vicinity of airports.
Air transport’s influence on investment
Good air transport links influence where companies choose to invest. According to a survey14, 56% of companies consider international transport links to be an essential factor for locating businesses in Europe. Another survey15 found that 18% of businesses’ past investment decisions were directly affected by the absence of good air transport links, especially in hightech sectors. Around 28% of companies believe that innovation and investment in research and development would be very badly or fairly badly affected if air transport services were constrained.
Reductions in barriers to international trade: most notably, the creation of free trade blocs such as the European Single Market, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Mercosur, and the widening influence of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In addition, many bilateral trade barriers have also been removed.
Air transport contributes to sustainable development
Air transport makes a major contribution to sustainable development by supporting and promoting international tourism. Tourism helps reduce poverty by generating economic growth, providing employment opportunities, increasing tax collection, and by fostering the development and conservation of protected areas and the environment. In effect, protecting the environment attracts tourism and the development of the tourism industry, which in turn makes it possible to finance the protection of nature and cultural heritage, thereby increasing the benefits of protected areas to the country. Moreover, the promotion of nature-based tourism is an effective lobbying tool that favours nature conservation over non-sustainable agricultural activities. It can also increase the sense of ownership and responsibility for natural resources, among local communities. With all these benefits aligned, we can only hope for the best and we must pray we qualify for the next international tournaments where our supporters must be sure of a stress free travel.
Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com. Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visist our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations.