How we hacked the Asogli Yam Festival to promote tourism and local development.
The chiefs and people of Asogli State, in the Volta Region celebrate the “Tedudu za” (Yam festival) in the month of September. As the name suggests, it is celebrated to usher in the new yam harvest after the yearlong planting season, praise the gods for a bumper harvest and protection. Tedudu za attracts indigenes from far and near, local and international tourists, and general Ghanaian public to Ho every September.
The paramount chief of the Asogli Traditional area, Torgbui Afede XIV, during the 2016 grand durbar and on other platforms bemoaned the dwindling fortunes of tourism in the traditional area, a potent tool to uplift many out of poverty and create many jobs for the youth.
It is in this context that Ho Node Hub, a digital innovation hub and co-working space in Ho organized the first ever Tourism Hackathon in Ghana to involve young people in festivals beyond the funfair and encourage them to ignite ideas to improve tourism in their local community.
The Ho Node Tourism Challenge, which is the first in the series of tourism hackathons, sought to engage young people during the Yam festival to learn about the tourism value chain of tourism so they can brainstorm and find solutions to promote tourism and hospitality industry in the Asogli state.
Day 1 of Ho Node Tourism Challenge
About 15 young people who registered online turned up at the node as early as 9 AM September 14th to take part in the hackathon.
The event began with a first presentation on the tourism sector by Victor Amagble, the Administrative Sectary of the Hoteliers Association, Volta Region. The Hoteliers association is a union of hotel owners and managers.
Mr. Amagble passionately spelt out the opportunities as well as the challenges they faced in running hotels in Ho. These include high power cost, Intimidation by government agencies, excessive taxes and levies they had to pay to multiple agencies, general low inflow of tourist into the region among many others. He also answered several questions from the participants who sought clarification about the hotel business.
This was followed by an insightful presentation on the tourism value chain by Mr. Kwame Gyasi, the Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority. His explanation of the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Treats of the Volta Region Tourism value chain gave participants a lot to chew on for their brainstorming session.
Mr. Vincent Asiama, a lecturer at the Tourism and Hospitality Department of the Ho Technical University, delivered the final presentation. In a typical academic style, He explained to participants what tourism is and the untapped opportunities in tourism in Ho.
Brian Dzansi, Co-Founder of Ho Node, took participants through design thinking skills later during the first day to help them in reframing the challenges framing and idea generation.
Day one ended with participants forming their teams and brainstorming on the hackathon challenges.
Day 2 of Ho Node Tourism Challenge
The teams spent the first hours of Day 2 on ideation and developing solutions to the specific challenges they selected to address. Participants were then taught how to design their slides and pitch confidently to the judges.
The pitch competition began in the afternoon of day 2. Each team had five minutes to pitch their solution to the panel of judges and two minutes to respond to questions from both the judges and fellow participants.
The panel of judges was constituted of: Mr. Kwame Gyasi, the Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr. Adu Adolf, Computer Science Lecturer at Ho Technical University and Mr. Dzamesi an Entrepreneur and Managing Director of Sonrise International School in Ho. The Judges examined participants on value creation, feasibility of ideas, financial viability, originality of the idea and presentation skills.
In all, 5 teams pitched their ideas to the Judges. Team Scorpion made up of Francis Kofo Kwao and Steve Park were adjudged the overall winners of the Ho Node Tourism Challenge. They plan to develop video documentary series to promote under marketed tourist sites in the Asogli state and then the entire.
Team VoltaDistrict came second. Their idea was an app that would take tourists on a memorable experience in Ho: explore sites via the app and social media, book and pay for hotels, car services and other activities online.
The third place went to team VoltaTour who want to use themed events to create an engaging experience around tourist sites. They believe it is through these events specifically targeted, which will attract recurring and new tourists to sites in Ho.
All winners of the Ho Node Tourism Challenge were given certificates, gift package for Ho Node and Incubation Opportunity in the Ho Node Incubator program to develop their ideas further into viable businesses.
The Judges were impressed with the quality of ideas that were churned out given the relatively short time given to participants to brainstorm around the challenges. Participants also expressed their delight in the opportunity to learn more about tourism, design thinking and pitching that would be useful in their businesses and career.
The Ho Node Tourism hackathon was an awesome experience for the organizers, participants, experts, judges, journalist and all who took part in the challenge. It was made possible with kind support from Global Shapers Ho Hub of the World Economic Forum, Daily Guide Newspaper, Ghana Tourism Authority, Volta Region, Global FM, Association of Ghana Industries, Citifmonline and many media partners.