Ghana

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This emerging West African country Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator, and therefore enjoys a warm climate.

Fact File
Population:
26 million
Time zone: GMT
Plugs: Three-prong square
Dialling code: +233
Currency: Ghanaian Cedi – $1=2.3GHS
Language: English

Background
Ghana is one of the world’s top gold producers. Other exports such as cocoa, crude oil, natural gas, timber, electricity and diamonds are major sources of foreign exchange, even though Ghana continues to experience electricity and gas shortages. This abundance of natural and mineral resources, combined with political stability, makes it an attractive business destination.

Cities
Accra, the capital, has 10% of the total population. Sekondi has an artificial harbour and was the first modern port built in Ghana. Other major cities include Tema, Tamale and Cape Coast. People living in urban areas account for 37% of the population.

Business Travel Activity
The biggest loss in 2013 saw Virgin Atlantic announce that it was suspending its operations between London Heathrow and Accra from 22 September. High fuel costs in Ghana, a challenging wider economic environment, and an inability to operate morning arrivals from Accra due to a scarcity of slots at Heathrow, all contributed to the decision.

This news was offset by British Airways increasing its daily services to Ghana by three a week from 27 October, using Boeing 767s to complement the existing Boeing 777 flights. This brought the total number of weekly services to 10.

In other airline news, Africa World Airlines, a Ghanaian-registered private sector airline, introduced a morning flight from Accra to Ghana’s northern regional capital Tamale. That was followed later in the year with the news that the airline would soon launch flights covering Accra-Lagos-Abuja-Port-Harcourt.

Ghana also welcomed a new airline in 2013. Eagle Atlantic Airlines commenced operations with flights from Accra to Abidjan, Robertsville-Monrovia and Freetown.

On the hotel front, Best Western International announced the addition of three new hotels to its West African portfolio. That included the Best Western Plus Atlantic Hotel in Takoradi.

Kempinski was due to open the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra, but that looks set to take place in 2014. Carlson Rezidor is also looking to expand into Ghana, whilst Protea Hotels has finalised an agreement that will see it develop the 130-room Protea Hotel Select Takoradi, opening in 2014.

Airport
All international flights are through Kotoka International Airport in Accra. The airport is about 10 kilometres from downtown Accra, where there are always airport shuttles and lots of taxis available to connect travellers to other parts of the city.

Recently refurbished, the airport is fairly modern and consists of two passenger terminals. Terminal 1 serves primarily domestic and regional operators, while Terminal 2 serves international and long-haul operators. Terminal 2 is the principal international departure terminal and has restaurants, duty-free shops and two Business Class lounges.

“I just think it’s a lovely airport and the people are very friendly,” says Mbali Mngomezulu, Sales and Marketing Director for Birchwood Hotel & O.R Tambo Conference Centre.

Through Priority Pass, passengers have access to the Adinkra Lounge and the Akwaaba Lounge. You’ll fine Adinkra airside after the security checks and passport control, just outside the duty-free area. Its hours are from 10h00 to 23h30.

Akwaaba is airside after immigration and security. Proceed towards Gate 1, following the signs to the lounge. It is open 24 hours a day.

Passengers should arrive at the airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure time. 

For passengers flying Delta Air Lines Business Class, it’s worth noting that Delta offers a protocol service at the airport to help facilitate departures.

Hotels
Accommodation in Accra is plentiful. The Holiday Inn is conveniently close to the airport (0.9km) and offers day rooms. Other hotels near the airport are the African Regent Hotel and the Moevenpick Ambassador (a popular option for business travellers).

“My preferred hotel is the Labadi Beach Hotel (Legacy Hotels & Resorts property),” says Bobby Bryan, Commercial Manager: East & West Africa for Delta Air Lines. “I would, though, add an honorable mention for the Novotel Accra City Centre, which has small but clean rooms, and offers good value.”

“The Moevenpick will be challenged for market supremacy by the Kempinski,” says Trevor Ward, MD of W Hospitality Group. “Otherwise, there’s a wide range of hotels to choose from in Accra, from the beachside Labadi Beach Hotel and La Palm Royal Beach, to the Holiday Inn at the airport.”

A landmark hotel, the Golden Tulip, is a family-friendly 4-star hotel close to Accra Mall and the US Embassy.  

“I recommend the Golden Tulip, which is well positioned and has great facilities for work and leisure,” says management consultant Adrian Ristow. “I’ve also stayed at Labadi Beach Hotel, which is also a great hotel on the coast. The others that are good are the Best Western and the Holiday Inn.”

Many hotels boast broadband access via wireless hotspots.

Card Acceptance
Visa and MasterCard are accepted in major hotels, restaurants, airlines, banks and businesses. However, be aware of the threat of fraud. Ghana’s currency is the cedi and can be exchange at any forex outlet and some banks. Most large commercial banks have ATMs outside, accepting Visa mostly, but also other cards.

US dollars are accepted by some of the major tourist hotels, but travellers should not rely on this. As in all West African countries, if travellers intend to take dollar notes, make sure that they are all from the 2007 series or later.

Visas
Foreign nationals of the following countries can enter Ghana visa-free: ECOWAS countries, plus Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Singapore, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Otherwise, unless in direct airside transit through a Ghanaian airport, all other foreign nationals require a visa to enter Ghana, and it is recommended that these are obtained prior to arrival. There is no such thing as a visa on arrival for Western countries. It is therefore best to play it safe and get a visa in advance.

Connectivity
Mobile phone penetration is very good with over 25 million registered numbers and good coverage even in remote areas. Visitors can obtain a local SIM card from any of the six providers – Vodafone, MTN, GLO, Expresso Telecom, Airtel and Tigo. MTN has 97.7% market share.

Health
Compulsory vaccination: yellow fever.

Recommended vaccinations: hepatitis A, typhoid, tetanus, meningitis. A malaria risk exists. Medical facilities are poor outside urban areas in Ghana. Emergency facilities are extremely limited. For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation would be necessary.

Travellers should carry adequate supplies of any needed prescription medicines, along with copies of their prescriptions, the generic name of the drugs, and a supply of preferred over-the-counter medications.

Drinking water from the tap is not generally considered to be safe.

The Experience
Ghana’s political and economic stability, low crime rate, and wide use of English make the country an attractive and ideal destination. For female travellers, Ghana is notably one of the safest destinations in West Africa. Check with locals for reports of any tribal clashes when travelling out of the main centres, and avoid areas where these clashes are occurring.

Pick-pocketing, purse snatching and various types of scams are common in crowded markets, in parks, and at beaches and tourist attractions. Pick-pockets are active at Kotoka International Airport.

Avoid the city streets and outlying areas after dark, as the poor condition of the vehicles and the roads may see you stranded after an accident or break-down. 

Tourism in Ghana is growing rapidly, and more tour operators are seeing increased requests for Ghana as a travel destination.

Ghana is a conservative and deeply religious country. Wearing skimpy clothing in public is likely to cause offence or attract unwanted attention. The wearing of military apparel, such as camouflage clothing by civilians, is prohibited. Taking pictures near sensitive installations, including military sites and some government buildings, is also prohibited.
“My restaurant tip for Accra is Le Tandem – the best restaurant in Accra and not far from the American Embassy,” says Bryan. “It has good ‘Euro/French’ food, and the owner Laurent is a fabulous host and a great source of information on what’s going on in Accra business.”

Contacts
Ghana.gov.gh
Touringghana.com

Comment
Collin Austen – Business Development Manager: Club Travel
A business trip to Ghana was always going to be a daunting one. But besides the long wait for passport control and the dodgy air-conditioning at Kotoka International, the airport is user-friendly and easy to negotiate.

I strongly suggest that you arrange for a transfer from the airport to your hotel or first meeting. Failing this, you will need to deal with a myriad of people offering all sorts of transport into the city.

When selecting a hotel, ensure that it is close to where you will be conducting business and preferably offers transport to your meetings. The taxi drivers do not speak English (or profess not too) and without any road name signs, it is extremely difficult to travel directly from one destination to the other.

On one taxi ride, we drove past my hotel three times before finding our destination. When we finally arrived, I realised that I could still see my hotel and should probably have walked to my meeting. Not that I would have, because the heat would have melted me before I arrived! The people of Accra are very proud and I never felt threatened at all.

I strongly suggest that you do not try the Ghanaian delicacy of ‘bush meat’. It was offered to me as part of the western buffet at the hotel. Not trying to be silly, I asked the chef what bush meat was, and after some back and forth in broken English, was told bush meat was in fact buck or venison. So I served myself a taster. It took just one bite for me to decide not to eat any more. Once back in the room I Googled ‘bush meat’, only to discover that it is in fact cane rat!

Never again will I be adventurous when it comes to culinary affairs.

Air Travel
Afrinat Airlines – www.afrinat.com
Air Burkina – www.air-burkina.com
Air Cote d’Ivoire – www.aircotedivoire.com
Air Namibia – www.airnamibia.com.na
Antrak Air – www.antrakair.com
Arik Air – www.arikair.com
ASKY – www.flyasky.com
British Airways – www.ba.com
Delta – www.delta.com
Ethiopian – www.ethiopianairlines.com
EgyptAir – www.egyptair.com
Emirates – www.emirates.com
Kenya Airways – www.kenya-airways.com
Lufthansa – www.lufthansa.com
Middle East Airlines – www.mea.com.lb
Royal Jordanian Airlines – www.rj.com
Rwandair – www.rwandair.com
Starbow – www.flystarbow.com
SAA – www.flysaa.com
TAP – www.flytap.com
Turkish Airlines – www.turkishairlines.com

Hotels
Accra
Afia African Village – www.afiavillage.com
African Regent – www.african-regent-hotel.com
African Royal Beach – www.africanroyalbeachhotel.com
Airport View – www.airportviewhotel.net
Airport West – www.airportwesthotel.com
Alisa – www.alisahotels.com
Best Western Premier – www.bestwesternpremier.com
Coconut Grove Regency – www.coconutgrovehotelsghana.com 
Crystal Palm – www.crystalpalmhotels.com.gh
De Holiday Beach – www.deholidaybeachhotel.com
Fiesta Royale – www.fiestaroyalehotel.com
Frankie’s – www.frankies-ghana.com
Golden Tulip – www.goldentulipaccrahotel.com
Gye Nyame – www.gyenyamehotel.com
Highgate – www.highgatehotel.com
Holiday Inn – www.holidayinn.com
Hotel Elegance – www.hotelelegance-accra.com
Kempinski – www.kempinski.com (opening 2014)
Korkdam – www.korkdamhotel.com
La Villa – www.lavillaboutiquehotelaccra.com
Labadi Beach – www.legacyhotels.com
Mahogany Lodge – www.mahoganylodge.com
Mensvic – www.mensvichotels.com
Moevenpick Ambassador – www.moevenpick-hotels.com
Novotel Accra City Centre – www.novotel.com
Oak Plaza – www.oakplazahotel.com
Pemicsa – www.pemicsahotel.com
Ramada – www.ramadaresortaccra.com
Robinhood Inn – www.accrarobinhood.com.gh
Soriania – www.sorianiahotel.com
Travel Xpress – www.travelxpresshotelghana.com
Tribeca – www.tribecahotelgh.com
Villa Monticello – www.villamonticello.com

Car Rental
Avis – www.avis.com
Europcar – www.europcar.com

TMC
Access-to-Africa – www.access-to-africa.com
American Express – www.americanexpresstravel.co.za
BCD – www.bcdtravel.com
CWT – www.carlsonwagonlit.com
HRG – www.hrgworldwide.com
SATC – www.satravelcentre.com
XL Travel – www.xltravel.co.za