Author: Prof Ishmael Mensah (University of Cape Coast)*
*View Original Post
Airports should not be seen, only as facilitators of tourism. When it comes to tourism, Cape Coast is still a long way off a fully-fledged destination that could take full advantage of an international airport.
This is mainly due to a lack of receptive facilities and complimentary attractions. However, the construction of the airport could serve as a catalyst for the development of these facilities. The tourism promotion argument is therefore just one side of the coin.
According to Angela Gitten, Director General of Airports Council International (ACI), “Airports have evolved from infrastructure providers to complex businesses that produce considerable commercial development well beyond their perimeters. The land surrounding the airports has become a focal point for a range of economic activities that thrive on long-distance connectivity.”
Cape Coast Airport could be a nucleus for the much-needed socio-economic development of the Central Region, if properly planned and executed.
For Cape Coast and the Central Region to take full advantage of the proposed airport, the government should involve the private sector, including airlines in the development and management of the airport.
Airlines are increasingly investing in the construction of airports and are better managers. Make Cape Coast Airport the hub of the yet to be ‘resurrected’ Ghana Airways Company, negotiate with tour operators for charter flights to Cape Coast.
Airlines don’t only carry humans, so create linkages with the agricultural sector, especially for perishable products such as fruits which are in high demand abroad and for which the Central Region has comparative advantage.
The export of such products in the form of aviation cargo can create lots of jobs for local farmers and other businesses along the value chain as well.
Government should eschew the ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy else the full potential of the airport will not be realized.
Featured image source: Rolf Wallner [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D