Covid-19 has without a doubt affected various spheres of the local economy, with tourism being one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
Many businesses in the tourism sector have especially felt the direct impact of the pandemic on their activities.
Felix Bentum, who runs Surf and Impact, a local start-up located in Busua, has in the past connected with tourists who volunteer in the country. However, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, Felix has experienced a sharp decline in his business this year.
Per his projections last year, 2020 was supposed to have seen a boom in his business as he had confirmed several bookings of tourists wanting to come into the country to visit, but now he is uncertain what the future holds.
“I had over 150 bookings this year alone. In March, I had to send all our volunteers back home,” he said.
Busua, located in the Ahanta West district of the Western Region has for years been a hotbed for tourists mainly from Europe and America.
When borders were shut, nearly all tourists in the town returned to their home countries causing the town’s local economy that has for years thrived on the influx of foreigners to take a tumble.
“It’s a tragedy,” said Yaa Akyiaa who owns the Kangaroo Pouch, one of over 20 guest houses in Busua.
“I do not what to do with my workers. I have been paying them since March but my guest house hasn’t had any guest since June,” she said.
Majority of the guest houses like the Kangaroo Pouch have closed down in Busua and local businesses that sell handicrafts have laid off staff and closed down shops.
The Kotoka International Airport is due to open September 1 after over 6 months of closure. Many Ghanaians are encouraged by the prospects that it holds for families and businesses alike. For the residents of Busua, this is a major lifeline for their town that is on the brink of an economic bust.
“Tourism runs this town and if the airport opens and the tourists come back, things will get better. It may take time but it would be better,” said Bentum.
Tourism is a key economic driver in Ghana, currently the fourth largest earner of foreign exchange.
An estimated $2.2 million was pulled in in 2015 with arrivals of 1.2 million visitors.
Last year, after the highly patronized ‘Year of Return’ programme, government claimed the country had earned $1.9 billion dollars and was hoping this year was going to see a boost with the launch of the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative.