Is Ghana trying to discourage tourism?

A Ghanaian government requirement to include bank statements with your visa application is turning off a lot of travelers, especially Black Americans.

Late last year, I got an inquiry from a young African-American woman who was applying for a tourist visa to Ghana. She was not happy.

According to the application, she had to include her bank account information on the application.

“Do I actually have to tell them how much money I have in the bank?”

That just didn’t sound right, not for a tourist visa. A business visa, perhaps, or for someone seeking permanent residency as an expat. But a one-time use tourist visa that was good only for three months, anyway? I’d never heard of such. That couldn’t possibly be right, I assured her.

Turns out, she was.

In the midst of a four-page application (and while we’re at it, a four-page application for a tourist visa is in itself ridiculous), there it was in black and white:

“Tourists must provide the following: photocopy of applicant’s bank statement…”

I have great respect and affection for the Ghanaian people, but when it comes to attracting foreign visitors to their beautiful country, someone in the Ghanaian government has clearly lost his mind.

Especially if they’re serious about attracting more African-American visitors to their country.

One of the first things we learn growing up is not to let others “put our business in the street.” It’s one of the earliest survival mechanisms we’re taught. It’s an attitude that governs our whole lives, not just our dealings with government or financial matters.

So when it comes to shielding personal affairs from the prying eyes of government, the average ultra-conservative Libertarian hasn’t got [BLANK] on Black America. Especially when it involves our money.

We are the kings, queens and crown princes of “Stay out of my business!”

To be fair, it’s almost a global requirement that you’re not allowed to bring more than $10,000 cash into another country — at least, not without declaring it first.

But Ghana doesn’t just want to know “what’s in your wallet?” when you arrive. They also want to know what you’ve got stashed in your bank back home.

Why, I can’t imagine.

To date, I’ve visited more than 30 countries around the world and counting. Not one of them has ever asked to see my bank records in the United States. Not even China and Vietnam, two of the last remaining Communist governments on Earth, ask you for that.

Short of dressing their immigration officers in Ku Klux Klan robes, it’s hard to imagine a bigger turnoff to prospective Black American visitors. I’ve already heard from some who are refusing to include their banking info in applying for Ghanaian visas. We’ll see what happens.

I’m also hearing from others who are crossing Ghana off their bucket list.

Meanwhile, compare Ghana’s approach to that of Brazil, which has instituted a digital visa system.

The Brazilian eVisa allows you to apply online. Send in your passport information, even take the necessary passport pics, from your own computer. Receive your approval in 2-3 days instead of 2-3 weeks, without having to trust your precious passport to the mercies of the mail.

Even better is the visa itself. You can visit Brazil multiple times on the same visa, and it’s valid for two years. Cost: $40.

Ghana’s single-use visa is good for three months and costs $60.

Brazil is one of many countries around the world moving toward electronic visas. It won’t be long before the old way of applying encourages prospective visitors to alter their travel plans.

Countries like Ghana, that insist on asking travelers how much money they have in the bank, could find themselves not getting a dime of it.