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Meet the Brit-Ghanaian entrepreneur taking over travel

PICTURED: Jeffrey Boateng

BRITISH/GHANIAN entrepreneur Jeffrey Boateng is the founder of Ghana Escapes – a holiday package service with a twist.

With a burning passion to celebrate his Ghanaian heritage, Boateng, right, quickly began encouraging UK-based African- Caribbeans to travel to Ghana over the festive period to reconnect with its culture.

What started out as just a great holiday experience soon grew into a life-changing and educational foray for his clients, but it was the day he saw people break down in tears when he took them to the Elmina slaves castle in Cape Coast, that he realised how important and special his service was.

A: You started your business four years ago – tell us about what you do and how it was a missing element from the travel business?

Jeffrey Boateng: As the founder of Ghana Escapes I am responsible for heading up the overall project and making key strategic decisions in the direction of the business.

This includes creating strategic partnerships and liaising with numerous vendors including British Airways. These strategic decisions govern the success of the project. The travel industry has created great scope and opportunities for tourists to go to Ghana or Africa in general.

What Ghana Escapes identified five years ago, was the opportunity to take tourists to Ghana to experience every aspect of the country, including tourism and its historical landmarks, nightlife, investment opportunities, working with the less privileged, traditional restaurants and places to stay. Despite both of my parents being from Ghana and visiting there as a youth, I never knew much about the country. To my surprise neither did many of my family and friends my age, who were also from Ghana.

HISTORY: Ghana’s Elmina Castle

It dawned on me that if I didn’t know much about my country, then nor will my non- Ghanaian friends. This was the missing piece I identified that I knew needed filling in immediately; bringing people back home to Ghana – both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians – and educating them through different platforms. The most convenient way to do this was to offer a packaged holiday, with a scheduled itinerary alongside flights, travel and accommodation options.

A: What’s your unique selling point?

JB: Ghana Escapes unique selling point is its authenticity. We pride ourselves in educating people from different walks of life and ethnic backgrounds about Ghana in a combination of ways, with highly skilled tourist guides, a strong customer care team and a combination of exciting places to visit and entertainment.

A: What type of people utilise your services?

JB: The type of people who uti- lise Ghana Escapes are those who want to go back to learn about Ghana or have always wanted to visit Africa/Ghana but don’t quite know where to start.

A: How do you imagine growing over the next four years?

JB: Ghana Escapes growth target is to operate more than just once a year December. In four years’ time, Ghana Escapes plans to operate and take tourists back four times a year. Another factor is to educate people about Ghana through curriculum. This will include case studies of Ghana aiding to understand the culture more.

A: What is it about Ghana for you that is so appealing?

JB: I would say its people attracts many tourists. Ghanaians are known to carry a laid-back and easy-going persona. Over the years the sporting and music industry has turned a lot of eyes to Ghana. Alongside the beautiful beaches and restaurants,it also has a lot of history.

A: There’s a perception that black people only go home when they travel – how do you tackle that?

JB: I think that is more relevant to the over-50s. That’s a mentality that’s been there for many, many years, and for them they go home to rest or concentrate on building their retirement home, as well as visit- ing old family and friends. The younger generation – say, 24- to 35-year-olds – are more interested in their own history, their ancestors and exploring more exciting things when on holiday, rather than just partying or going to rest.

Q: If you had to tell someone where to visit in Ghana, what would your top three spots or attractions be?

JB: The top three spots you have to visit if you were to go Ghana: Elmina Castle, Kwame Nkrumah Museum and Labadi Beach on a Sunday mid afternoon.

Ghana Escapes 2017 runs from December 26, 2017 – January 4, 2018.

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