This month, I spoke to Accra-based entrepreneur, Farouk Suhununu as we discussed his frustrations with the Ghanaian tourism industry and his goal to transform the face of Ghanaian tourism with his early stage startup, TripGH.
annette abena: Tell me about yourself.
Farouk: I’m an entrepreneur and Founder of Ghanaian tourism agency TripGH. I am born and raised in Ghana, my Mother being from the Northern region (Tamale) and my Father from the Southern region (Accra), so I am half Dagomba and half Ga.
annette abena: What was your motivation for starting TripGH?
Farouk: It is my dream to travel the world one day. I currently work with a family friend who is a travel agent and we help people make their travel arrangements out of Ghana including tickets and visas. From this and through my own research on the internet and social media, I discovered that Ghana is not doing well in its tourism sector and I decided that I needed to do something about it.
annette abena: The 2017 edition of the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index ranked Ghana 120 out of the 136 countries that were sampled globally; a position which has remained same since 2015. What are the issues you are seeing with Ghana’s tourism sector?
Farouk: Firstly, Ghana lacks a maintenance culture for our tourism hot spots and I think that is down to the Tourism board. Just recently I went back to Aburi (botanical) Gardens for an event and I was really disappointed – it was not the Aburi Gardens that we used to know as kids, the general maintenance of the place was very poor. Another issue is the lack of promotion. When you go to social media you see countries using the platform to promote tourism in their countries very well and it just made me think there was a missed opportunity for Ghana to be doing the same. Finally, there is no competition in the hospitality industry here. If you compare it to other African countries such as Kenya or Uganda you can get a very competitively priced hotel with value for money, but in Ghana competition is limited which makes places unaffordable for most people.
annette abena: Tell me about your business journey so far?
Farouk: I started TripGH quite recently, in September 2017. My vision was to do something for Ghana – to promote Ghana’s tourism industry. We’ve completed registration and are looking to begin operations fully next year. We are in the process of gaining our license from Ghana’s Tourism board which we expect to be completed early next year with our website launching around the same time. For now, we are just working to create a social media presence in anticipation of our launch.
annette abena: What has been your experience so far with setting up in Ghana?
Farouk: Honestly, it has been very difficult. This is actually my 3rd time setting up a business. There is a very damaging culture amongst ourselves where we do not like to support our own and so it can often be difficult getting the support you need, especially at the early ideas stage. There are some large companies that are beginning to support entrepreneurs like myself but there are currently not many so it can be very challenging.
annetteabena: What are your short and long-term goals?
Farouk: In the short term, the goal is to begin operations and start to pick up some clients. In the long term – I want TripGH to be the face of Ghanaian tourism. The world has changed, we are in the digital age and most of the tourism companies in Ghana are still relying on traditional marketing. My goal once I have the resources is to invite influencer’s/travel bloggers to Ghana which I think would begin to put Ghana on the map as well as TripGH. My vision is for the company is to be a leading inbound agency in Ghana – I wouldn’t build a company to facilitate travel outside of Ghana but only focus on the beauty that is Ghana.
annetteabena: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs at home and abroad looking to set up a business in Ghana?
Farouk: Ghana is a beautiful place, one of the most peaceful places in Africa, its home and overall business is booming. But it is not easy to set up a business in Ghana. Having the resources you need (capital, networks etc.) goes a very long way and will make the process easier – Preparation is key!
Farouk’s top 5 places to visit in Ghana:
- Mole National Park: Ghana’s largest wildlife refuge located in the Northern region.
- Elmina Castle: One of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade located in the Central Region (Cape Coast)
- Jamestown – Accra: A historical town and one of the oldest districts of Accra
- Ashanti Kingdom – Manhyia Palace: Located in Kumasi and where the Asantehene of Asanteman (King of the Ashanti Kingdom) lives.
- Nzulezu: a Beautiful village on water, entirely made up of stilts and platforms located in the Western region.
Stay tuned for next month’s installment of Behind the Brand where I will be talking to an inspiring Ghanaian entrepreneur making tradition her business.
What do you think of this months interview? Let us know your thoughts below…