Opinion & Analysis

Kwahu Easter Paragliding Festival is here again

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… measuring the number of arrivals and economic impact will be key in achieving 1.3m visitors in 2023

By Philip Gebu

The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has launched the 2023 edition of the annual Kwahu Easter Paragliding Festival at Kwahu Nkwatia in the Eastern Region. The paragliding has been held every year except during the peak of COVID-19.

It is invigorating to note that 15 years have pass since this festival was first launched in Ghana. I will be glad to received figures on the economic impact of this festival to the Economy of the eastern region and Ghana as a whole.

It’s important to measure the economic impact of festivals and also get figures of the number of both international and local tourists. It’s important to know the type of accommodation most preferred by the tourists, the type of attraction they visit and the kind of entertainment they get attracted to.

Research is key in planning and statistics is very important when measuring and accessing the impact of festivals. 15 years is a long time to have a full document on the economic impact of the Paragliding Festival at Kwahu and other festivals celebrated in Ghana.

The Ghana Tourism Authority is expecting 1.3 million international arrivals by the close of this year and they believe this year’s Kwahu Easter Paragliding Festival will play a key role in achieving their targets.

This is a very ambitious target and if strategies geared towards its achievement are well implemented, it may end up being a reality. A vigorous marketing of this year’s event and encouraging all and sundry to attend is the first step.

Not only should everyone attend, they must also spend money when they visit. I heard on media that, there are people who visit and do not have places to sleep and keep walking through out expecting friends to spend on them. They end up sleeping on the street or front of shops.  If that were the case, such people may add up to the numbers yet when it comes to expenditure it will amount to zero. Tourism arrivals are always simultaneous to spending.

Beyond the paragliding festivals, there are other personal benefits tourists could derive including the burning of calories through the immense walking and hiking, and since the oxygen level up the mountain tend to be very pure it tends to be good for the lungs and blood circulation. Other outlined benefits include increased energy levels, improved mood, improved concentration, improved sports performance, reduce stress, provide relief for headache and migraine and promote better sleep.

Some other places to visit include Otweanoma Mountain in Atibie. A hiking expedition to the mountain through the ‘Nkofieho’ Caves of Life is worth the visit.

Uysal and Gitleson (1994) define festivals as ‘traditional events staged to increase the tourism appeal to potential visitors.

Festivals are very important occasions on the traditional calendars of the various traditional areas. All the festivals have political, social, economic and religious importance in Ghana. In Ghana some of the reasons for celebrating our festivals are but not limited to;

1. Marking the beginning of a traditional year.
2. Offering thanks to the Supreme God for His care and protection, and to offer thanks to the ancestors and the spirits for their protection during the past year.
3. Remembering and mourning those who had died during the year.
4. Marking the beginning of harvesting of a staple food, e.g., yam or rice, and the beginning of a new agricultural year.
5. Performing the customary purification of the land and the people by the chiefs and the traditional priests. This purification is to strengthen them spiritually and socially to enable them to face the coming year successfully.

 6. Renewing the people’s loyalties to their chiefs by paying homage to them.
Settling family disputes, quarrels, or misunderstandings.
7. Reviewing the past year’s activities and to resolve to correct past mistakes and plan for the future.
8. Giving the youth the opportunity to know one another and in some cases choose their life partners.
9. Continuing the traditions.
10. Teaching the youth about their traditions.

Festivals falls under event attractions. They are events attraction because the event taking place serves as a means of attracting the mass tourists to one destination. An American tourist from Colorado, USA once told me Colorado is virtually a desert land yet attracts so many tourists yearly and tourism keeps thriving because the focus is on the events.

Every week, different kinds of events are held in Colorado attracting many tourists from nearby cities and states. These events are well planned and marketed to generate the needed flow of tourists to the destination.

Gradually, in Ghana the celebrations of festivals are losing their real significance and are being mostly reduced to merry making.  The youth seem to be more interested in drinking, dancing and all sorts of promiscuous acts. Tourism brings many benefits to the national economy however; there are many negative effects as well. When festivals are not well packaged in media, they may deter many of our Christian folks from patronizing and we may hear pastors dissuading their members from patronizing such events.

Nevertheless, what has been the economic benefits of events attractions most importantly our festivals in the host destinations and the national economy as a whole? Despite growing interest in festivals as research sites, little attention has been afforded to investigating festival processes. These festivals strengthen the local economy by creating opportunities for local business proprietors, like taxi drivers, hotel owners, food vendors and souvenir sellers, to earn much needed income. While festivals are diverse in nature and geographical location, scholarly interest focuses on five main themes across these variations: the motivations for organizing, funding, and attending festivals; the experiences of festival attendees; the relationship between festivals and their local environments; the economic and socio-cultural impacts of festivals; and the management of festivals.

How to Undertake Economic Impact Studies

•Identify the scope of the study

•Identify Stakeholders

• Suppliers

• Performers and Participants

•Workforce and Volunteers

•Sponsors

• Local authorities and organisations, interest groups and associations.

•Understand your Audience -the demographic and their spending habits

Who are they (Demographics)

Where do they come from? Local/festival tourists. How do they get to your event? What do they spend their money on and where do they buy? Average individual spend/ total spend.

This year’s festival must be well marketed as mentioned earlier on and considering the economic condition in the country, some tourist may decide to visit nearby attractions. For those who may attend, spending should be the priority. There were also plans to set up a training school in the Eastern Region geared towards training the local pilots. Little has been heard of this school. I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer/Trainer. 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 forealdestinations@gmail.com / info@forealdestinations.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. 2019 Kwahu Paragliding Festival takes off - Graphic Online

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