Increased investment in conservation and development of the natural environment, particularly, forest reserves, mountains, water bodies and their flora and fauna, it is believed would help to promote tourism that would generate high revenue.
The two-week photo exhibition showcases a collection of images that projects the amazing terrain, endangered plant and animal species from the Mole National Park, Akwamu Gorge and Lake Bosomtwe, three of Ghana’s famous, yet less explored conservation and tourism sites.
Mounted through a joint initiative by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and UNESCO Ghana office in France, and hosted by the Accra City Hotel, the national exhibition is aimed at revamping public and private sector interest in the development of the sector, as well as projecting the economic potentials in conservation.
Ms. Johanna Odonkor Svanikier, Ghana’s permanent delegate to UNESCO and Ambassador to France, who called for increased investment, said there was a need to properly conserve such natural sites to attract more domestic and international tourists.
She announced that the Mole National Park is expected to be designated as a world heritage site in July 2017, explaining that an evaluation team from UNESCO has already visited the park for an assessment, and would present its report in July.
Also, she said Lake Bosomtwe has been listed as a world biosphere reserve, while efforts were being made to get the Akwamu Gorge to be listed as a world heritage site.
The listings, she said, would project Ghana’s tourism prospects and attract huge investments into the tourism sector.
According to the ambassador, the country could attract more investors and tourists by instituting measures to provide the necessary supporting facilities such as effective transportation, roads, rest centres, and information and communication systems in and around tourist sites.
Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who cut the tape to open the exhibition, said efforts continued to be made by the government to protect wildlife and forests, and cited the introduction of the new policy on wildlife conservation as indicative government’s commitment.
In addition, he explained that Accra Eco-Park, an ecotourism infrastructure development which has the potential to make the city of Accra a major tourism destination in West Africa, is underway at the Achimota Forest Reserve.
Also, he said, the Akwamu Gorge is among areas that were being considered for intensified investment to promote their economic potentials for the locals.
Mrs. Mawuena Trebarh, Chief Executive Officer of GIPC, for her part, noted that such investments could help in poverty reduction in the host communities since increase in tourism activity would boost the local economy.
The exhibition project was launched at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris by President Mahama during his recent visit to France, as part of measures to attract foreign investors into the sector.
Rev George Guba Kpelle, Director of Operations at the Forestry Commission(Wildlife Division) commended UNESCO and GIPC for the initiative, saying there was a need for vibrant stakeholder engagement in the conservation and protection of nation’s natural resources which are being adversely affected due to expanding human settlement.
By Edmund Mingle