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Ghana's 50th Independence Anniversary Impacts Tourism Industry


Thousands of tourists, as well as heads of state and dignitaries from around the world are arriving in Ghana, to celebrate the West African nation's 50th anniversary of political independence from British rule. As the euphoria surrounding the March 6 event mounts, the country's tourism sector is enjoying a big boost. Efam Dovi reports from the capital, Accra.

Chris Art, reads the inscription on a wooden structure in Abossey Okai, a suburb of Accra. The compound of the communal house, where Chris Art is located, serves as printing workshop.

Excited young men are busy screen printing 50th anniversary tee shirts and banners. Usually, only eight people work here. However 10 extra hands have been taken on since last week, because of increased orders.

"I sell tomatoes and things; but, during this occasion, we decided to print some tee shirts and sell them so we do come to this place, they print for us and we go out and sell it," said Margaret Darko, who says she sells about 100 pieces a day.

She says, although the profit margin is not huge, it is a good business. "If we are looking for the profit margin, it's not all that good but the selling is going on fast fast so, if you sell more, you gain more," she says.

Margaret, like many petty traders and street hawkers, switched to selling golden jubilee souvenirs as the euphoria surrounding the independence anniversary celebration nears. Ghanaian flags and anything in the countries national colors - red, gold and green - is selling, as both locals and visitors are in the celebration mood.

The capital city, Accra, is sparkling with Ghana flags flying along many streets.

Thousands of visitors, including 18 heads of state, have already arrived in Ghana. Many more are expected to arrive today, the eve of the big event.

The Ghana Tourist Board says the tourism sector is a big beneficiary of the anniversary celebrations.

"All hotels are really operating at a high occupancy rates," says Ben Ohene-Ayeh, spokesman for the board. "[A] survey by the board really indicated that most hotels are running over 80 percent occupancy and that is a good sign that tourism is a big beneficiary of what is happening in Ghana at the moment."

Ohene-Ayeh says the tourism sector - one of the fastest growing in the country - is enjoying a big boost.

"It has really impacted on every aspect of the industry, service providers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, travel and tour operators, car-rental agencies are all benefiting they are all reaping full benefit," says Ayeh. "And service providers by way of souvenir sellers are also in good business, so the economic impact, the social impact, the cultural impact, everything is really going well for tourism."

Ghana, the former British colony of Gold Coast, was the first black African country to end colonial rule on March 6, 1957, inspiring independence movements around the continent.

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