‘Y3te sika so…: Ghana Tourism Authority’s costly neglect of Jirapa Dubai

    Jirapa Dubai. Have you ever heard of it before today? No? That’s okay, it’s not your fault. I blame every single state functionary and government official drawing a salary while pretending to work in furtherance of Ghana’s tourism sector.

    Let me get more specific. I blame every government functionary who sits in the Ghana Tourism Authority’s Regional Office at the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council building in Wa – who has been aware of the existence of the Royal Cosy Hills Safari Resort AKA Jirapa Dubai for the past seven years and managed to tell nobody whatsoever about it.

    Not a single mention on their website, nothing in the numerous annual reports they have been filing on tourism in the upper west region, nothing in any speeches or interviews they have granted. Nothing whatsoever about the terrific tourist magnet, described by the Upper West Region’s budget report as “the largest commercial property in the region”. Meanwhile, the place is sitting smack dab in the geographical centre of the region. I mean how?

    This is a 4-Star hotel with over 120 rooms, a top-notch spa and gym, several swimming pools set in beautifully tiled compounds, and the biggest, most impressive presidential villa I have ever seen in any hotel anywhere on Earth… oh, and in case I failed to mention it, a magnificent 350-acre safari park with lions, zebras, baboons, jackals, ostriches, hippos, tortoises, alpaca, warthogs, antelopes and God knows what other dazzling wildlife… let’s not forget those.

    Are you starting to understand my indignation now? I mean how can such a place exist right here in Ghana with hardly anyone knowing about it?

    Man has always been fascinated by nature. That’s why safari tours and holidays have always been so massively popular. Kenya makes 1.8 billion US dollars per year from safari visitors, who, according to tourist website each spend an average of 500 dollars per day, to get up close and personal with Kenyan wildlife. In 2017, 11,185 of those tourists were from Ghana, according to the global immigration portal, That’s 11,185 Ghanaians who, after coughing up about a thousand dollars for tickets, embarked on a 6-hour flight to blow an extra $3,500 on a week’s holiday with lions, zebras, hippos, antelopes and warthogs etc.

    So for a Ghanaian couple, that’s 9,000 dollars for a week on safari in Kenya – One hundred and ten thousand Ghana cedis. Keep that in mind while I proceed to give you the best advice you can ever get on what to do for Christmas with your loved one this year.

    Book two seats on a 90-minute flight from Accra to Wa. At ¢2,200 each, that will cost ¢4,400. A bus will pick you up free of charge from the airport and drive you for one hour on a 90% tarred road to the sumptuous paradise that is the Royal Cosy Hills Safari Resort AKA Jirapa Dubai.

    Spend seven days there. At about 1690 Ghana cedis a night, it will cost you about 11,820 Ghana cedis, and that gets you four-star accommodation, meals, access to the gym, pools, tennis court and the full open-car safari tour featuring lions, zebra, antelopes, hippos, baboons, tortoises, alpaca, jackals, ostriches, warthogs and a host of other species.

    Plus, for a little extra, you can enjoy a spectacularly soothing massage, some endorphin-pumping fun on the quad bikes, and a professional guided tour of nearby attractions, including the mushroom rocks and the Black Volta, where you can nip across to Burkina Faso and back in a canoe. That is a safari experience every bit as memorable as the $9,000 Kenya option.

    Plus there are so many advantages Jirapa Dubai has over Kenya. Apart from giving you the safari experience at 93,000 Ghana cedis less, you also don’t have to spend our already scarce foreign exchange in another country. Also, you take a 90-minute flight instead of a six-hour one, and at the end of the day, you give local tourism a much-needed shot in the arm. What’s not to like?

    Now that you know this, aren’t you mad you didn’t hear about Jirapa Dubai earlier? Aren’t you as furious as I am that a country that is so heavily in debt that it has surrendered its economic sovereignty to the IMF, while government dips its hands into the nest eggs of our grandparents, is still missing open goals in the potentially transformative tourism sector? Aren’t you incensed that people would invest their private money to build a tourist’s paradise, and government cannot even do the bare minimum of telling the world this place exists, just so that people can go spend their money at the place?

    Does it not get your goat that the government claims to be boosting tourism with this Beyond the Return initiative, but has somehow failed to recognize, much more to include such a wondrous place in its plans for the Christmas tourist avalanche?

    It just makes you wonder whether we are really serious about boosting tourism.
    As for me, I think I already know the answer. The Bank of Ghana is spending over 200 million dollars on a new Headquarters. That’s over 2.5 billion Ghana cedis – on one building.

    Now, guess how much the same government intends to spend on the entire tourism sector in 2024: ¢175.4 million. That’s just about 6 per cent of the money they are willing to spend on one building. This government has already spent ¢720 million on the galamsey pit that was supposed to be a national cathedral. So no, in my measured opinion, the government doesn’t give two hoots about tourism, and it shows.

    Well, now, you know whom to blame for that. Before you pay them their next salary, perhaps you should let them know how you feel. If you book your flights now, you can stop at the Ghana Tourism Authority office in Wa, and give them your feedback in person, before continuing to your holiday digs one hour away at Jirapa Dubai.

    Y3te sika so indeed…

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