This is a response to the article written by Ada Adoley Allotey: Destination Image and Diaspora Engagement in Tourism Development: Views of the Netherlands-based Ghanaian Diaspora
Destination branding, place branding, nation branding, country branding, and state branding are all about promoting a state’s image, products and resources for tourism, public diplomacy and foreign direct investment (FDI) by means of strategic destination marketing (Çakmak& Isaac, 2016). A country with a positive image attracts tourists, investors and talented people, and its exports find relatively easier visibility in markets worldwide. As a result, every country needs to communicate its brand consistently to relevant audiences (e.g. tourists, media, residents, diaspora, and other countries’ state and economic agents) through advertising, customer and citizenship relation management, and diaspora mobilization (Çakmak & Isaac, 2016). This is particularly necessary for countries and regions which suffer from a negative image or are located in conflict-ridden places.
The issues addressed by Allotey’s (2010) research are relevant and the paper as such provides the reader with useful and interesting information on the Dutch Ghanaians’ perspectives towards the tourism developments in their homeland. The destination managers in Ghana may implement the results of this research for diaspora mobilization in recrafting their brand strategy. The Ghanaian diaspora network spread across the Netherlands may epitomize a potentially immense state for Ghana. As Allotey (2010) stated in her research, Ghana can benefit from an important source of financial remittances, donations, investments, and intermediation for development projects initiated by its diaspora living in the Netherlands. However, it is important to define how a new brand strategy will be recrafted and implemented by the destination governors of Ghana. A strategy implementation includes key challenges like ensuring control, managing knowledge, coping with change, designing appropriate structures and processes, and finally managing internal and external relationships (Johnson, Scholes and Whittington, 2005). In the context of Ghana, it is essential to fine-tune these key challenges to the country branding elements with special focus on diaspora mobilization.
Allotey (2010) argued that Ghana does not possess a positive image in the mind of (potential) Dutch tourists. An important trend for places with a less positive image is that diaspora network members take initiatives to become involved with their home country. Within this context it might be interesting to examine the Ghanaian diaspora’s travel behaviour to their homelands for holidays and visiting friends and relatives. Furthermore, how the Ghanaian diaspora can be actively engaged in discussions about the issues regarding the image of Ghana in the Netherlands needs to be investigated, in terms of diaspora mobilization by destination managers and scholars.
Allotey’s (2010) research is connected to my and my colleague’s research interest in destination marketing and management in conflict ridden destinations and examining strategies for restoring negative country and destination images. Fostering connections with diasporic communities and mobilizing them in their home countries may serve multiple functions for states with less positive country images in the mind of their potential visitors and foreign investors.