For many years tourism has played a major role in promoting several countries and contributing to their GDPs. Many countries have the reputation as the best holiday and tourist destinations. Take countries like the UAE, Italy, Singapore, France, etc what stands out about these countries? Many of them are popular for their beautiful sceneries and delicious foods. No one can talk about Italy without their lasagna and pasta, likewise France without pizza and their luxurious wines. It is therefore not surprising to see the huge impact food has on tourism. Many people travel not just to see beautiful places but to experience the destination in totality which includes enjoying the cuisines in these localities.
What is Tourism?
Tourism can simply be said as travel for pleasure or business. Some people believe touring isn’t complete without experiencing everything that comes with the tourist site including the people and their way of life. Local food is perceived as food grown and made within a particular ethnicity or locality with indigenous ingredients and herbs. However, in terms of Ghanaian dishes, local food does not only mean food that is locally made but food that have cultural meanings and have historical origins, for example, Kpekple/ kpokpoi which is a kind of food eaten by the Ga tribe during the celebration of Homowo festival, which is to hoot at hunger.
Tourists’ consumption of local food while on holiday was mostly based on pragmatic situations but today it has grown beyond enduring it to consuming to enhance their holiday experiences. Many people are ecstatic to even try foods foreign to them and tell all the tales of it when they get back to their home countries.
Food consistency in tourism is yearly enhanced because food sets off almost all our human senses— sight, smell, touch, and taste; hence, it is positioned strategically during tourist holidays for experiences.
Ghanaian foods are irresistible and it is of no doubt that most tourists visit because they yearn for a specific meal and cannot forget about it after one visit. A lot of people have been made aware of Jollof because they’ve heard of the Ghanaian-Nigerian Jollof war and are so eager to know how good it tastes to be the better judge. Fufu which is also a popular Ghanaian and Nigerian meal went viral in 2020 where many foreigners were seen trying it. These situations have contributed to the international popularity of these meals and their origin.
As many people become more eager to travel and eat local foods, they enhance the economic development of the country, i.e. from hotel bookings to transportation, to buying food and so on the hospitality industry benefits greatly. This boosts the revenue of the country by improving sales for the hotel companies, food industries, and other industries utilised during tourism seasons.
The role of Food in Tourism
Before the food is served, it goes through many procedures from planting to harvesting to processing and so on. With all these procedures involved to make food in large quantities for tourists and native consumption, the food sector creates job opportunities in all these sub-sections needed to produce the final results. This can reduce the rate of unemployment in the country which can also extensively reduce the rate of street begging and social vices and increase the per capita income in Ghana.
Food in tourism also helps promote the Ghanaian culture in all parts of the world. Most Ghanaian foods have some kind of historical origin backing them and whenever these dishes are set up or mounted, especially during festivals and touring times the story behind them is always shared. For example the discovery of yam, according to the ewe tribe yam was mistakenly discovered when a man hid a tuber he found during a famine underground. After some time he grew hungry and when he took it out had formed many tubers hence the name “ete” meaning swollen in the ewe.
During such widespread history, some of the facts are not only made known to foreigners but also to the natives who might have forgotten the story. Most Ghanaian dishes are commonly called in local names and this helps to promote the various Ghanaian languages for example during tours to the northern region of Ghana and some northern festivals the origin of waakye which is from the Hausa words “shinkafa da wake “meaning rice and beans is made known to the tourists and through this, who knows, they may be motivated to learn a local language.
Ghanaian food plays a massive role in the tourism industry and that sector can be improved by; Compelling the sustenance of Ghanaian food since interest in it by international tourists is by developing the packaging, quality, and sanitary conditions of most places where food is sold, similarly, government agencies that oversee food vending and the quality of raw materials produced like the Food And Drugs Board must also do their work well by ensuring that Ghanaian foods are included on the menus of most hotels, restaurants to advocate and promote Ghanaian food more(i.e. since Chinese people who visit Ghana would rather go to a Chinese restaurant, seeing one or two Ghanaian dishes will heighten their curiosity and they might eventually try it).
Research by FE Amuquandoh in 2013 also proved that Ghana can reduce loss of revenue overseas if the food imported to feed international tourists and locals is reduced. The consumption of locally produced food items and the utilisation of local ingredients in the preparation of menus will reduce the risk of diseases and imports which will boost revenue for every sector from farming to processing to tertiary operators like food vendors and restaurants thereby improving the finances of the country as a whole.
Source: Bibiana Gyasi/Georgeweb.org