Accra hosts most of the MICE events in Ghana. However, the limited capacities of the major venues in Accra such as the International Conference Center; traffic congestion, high crime rate and other reasons, Accra is becoming less attractive to Global MICE events. This presents an opportunity for the country to develop other cities as alternatives to take advantage of the value of the MICE industry. Ghana’s potential to host MICE has further been given credence with the hosting of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Ghana can learn from South Korea that has developed ten (10) other MICE cities that offer tailored events to business travelers aside its capital, Seoul. Daejeon, for instance, hosts technology related MICE events while Jeju opens its doors to cultural and nature-related MICE events.
The global outlook of Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) industry generated $752 billion in revenue in 2016 and is projected to reach $1,439.3 billion by 2025. Many cities across the world are strategically positioned as the MICE destination in their regions, attracting millions of business visitors each year. Seoul, South Korea, for instance, hosted 526 meetings in 2016, up from 494 in 2015 (up 4.97%) ranking number 3 MICE city in the world according to International Meetings Statistics Report released by the Union of International Associations (UIA). Sadly, only about 2% of the global $7 trillion value of MICE industry is captured by African cities. Cape Town, Nairobi, Rabat, Cairo, Kigali are the most preferred destinations MICE in Africa.
MICE are big business and play an important role in supporting other businesses in the host city. MICE promote investment, trade, communications, and technology. It brings education and professional development to a city and creates several jobs. According to data from the Rwanda Development Board, hosting the 27th African Union Summit pumped an estimated $4.2 million into the Rwandan economy while some $2.4 million was received from the World Economic Forum. The MICE industry when developed can create the jobs much needed to deal with the growing unemployment in the country.
Ho, the regional capital of the Volta Region, has a huge tourism and MICE potential waiting to be tapped. Nested in between Adaklu Mountain and the Galenukui Mountains or Togo-Atakora Range, bustling with cool hostels and natural destinations, Ho can best be described as the oxygen capital of Ghana. Ho offers a unique blend of business, convenience, hospitality, and leisure, suitable for a MICE destination. Here are some reasons why Ho has the potential as a MICE destination in Ghana and should be given the needed attention.
Volta Serene Hotel, Kabakaba Hill, Ho
A Welcoming City
“Woezor” means welcome in Ewe language, the main dialect of Ho and the Volta Region. The city has everything one will need to have a productive, comfortable and awesome MICE experience. Ho has an excellent record in public safety and security. Business travelers can walk around freely at night without worrying about their safety. The quality of life is also high with a clean environment, green undulating landscapes, unpolluted air, state-of-the-art health facilities and many more. Ho can boost of a potential “4-star hotel” (Volta Serene Hotel) with 160 rooms, a 3-Star (Chances Hotel) with 180 rooms, three 2-Star Hotels (Sky Plus, Freedom & Hotel Stevens) and several other decent hotels that can accommodate hundreds of business travelers in the city offering over 953 rooms and 1,113 beds. With a booming student population as a result of the establishment of the University of Health and Allied Sciences in the city, several hostel facilities are springing up that can offer additional rooms for low budget MICE events at specific times of the year. There are unique locations available for development into various categories of hotels to accommodate the increasing inflows when Ho becomes the MICE destination in Ghana. Most importantly, the people are welcoming and offer great services that would make MICE events memorable.
A convenient transport system
Asphalted Road, Ho
Ho is one of the closest regional capitals to Accra. It is just about two hours’ drive from the Accra Airport. With the completion of the Ho aerodrome, it will even become faster to connect to Accra.
Getting stuck in traffic and finding it difficult to find your way around a city makes it less ideal for a great MICE destination. It is very easy to move around in Ho since there is virtually no traffic jam during normal days except on market days when the city experience some minimal congestion around the main lorry station and the main market area as well as its environs. Clean and affordable town-running Taxi services with flat rates dominate the public transport system. The internal road network is well paved while most eateries and busy areas are within walking distances.
The Way Forward
Although Ho is strategically placed to become Ghana’s preferred MICE destination, deliberate efforts must be made on the part of government through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the local authorities to invest and market the city. The first step is to recognize the MICE opportunity in Ho and then craft a clear strategy to exploit its potential. The Korean Government in 2009 officially identified the MICE Industry as one of the 17 New Growth Engine Industries of their economy in a bid to transition from its past of a manufacturing led growth. Last year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government allocated a KRW 10 billion to an aggressive “see-you-in-Seoul” plan to elevate the city’s MICE industry, which it identifies as a future core industry. The above and the remarkable story of MICE industry in Rwanda are examples of how priority and strategy at all levels is required to reap the benefits of MICE industry.
Spectacular event spaces make MICE events unforgettable. Ho has some event spaces; the GNAT Hall, the Afeti Multipurpose Auditorium at the Ho Technical University, The Jubilee Park, Praize City Point & Kill off the Kpetoe Road, and the CNC Auditorium that can take over 3000 people as well as the Conference Halls of the Hotels in the city. The limited capacity notwithstanding, Ho has vast lands available in the city for the constructions of mega multipurpose conventions and auditoriums that can host all types of global MICE events.
Weizor!!! Next time you are in “the oxygen capital” for a meeting, conference or any other activity to building camaraderie among staff, workers and teams outside; Ho offers open parks that can host camps, aerobic sessions and open games. For hiking lovers, Adaklu Mountain and Kabakaba/Galenkui hills offer an adrenalin-filled climbing experience. Also, Mount Gemi located at Amedzofe which is about 30 minutes’ drive from Ho, offers another thrilling hiking experience for mountain lovers. Photography and wildlife enthusiasts would find the Kalakpa Game and Resource Reserve at Abutia near Ho and the famous Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary and Cultural Village breathtaking. Nightlife in Ho bustles with several activities in clubs, pubs and food joints. Notable ones are Rabazey Spot, Mirage, Nogora Junction, Amdel, White House, Depot View, KCS Fast Foods and to mention a few. There are several local eateries popularly known as “Chop Bars” where one can sample local foods be it worpkle, fufu, banku, etc with assorted soups and stews- Agbenorxevi Chop Bar, Obaapa Canteen, Victorious Hill View Chop Bar, Bush Canteen, Fufu Engineers, etc. Water and boat experiences at Sogakope are only about 35 minutes’ drive from Ho. It offers several water-based games and fun activities including a Spa on the Volta River. There is also the Volta Regional Museum in the center of Ho, which displays the rich history and culture of the people of the Volta Region.
By: Eric Tackie Tawiah Ankrah / Senior Standard & Quality Assurance Officer, GTA, Ho