Comply with tourism regulations, we'll fix roads to sites – Minister to eco-tourism agents

The Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture has asked concessionaires of eco-tourism sites to ensure structures they put up are in conformity with the tourist site regulation while government focuses on fixing inaccessible roads to the sites.

Dr Awal Mohammed noted this would encourage repeat tourism.

The Tourism Minister was at two eco-tourism sites, Bunso Arboretum and Boti Falls, to asses facilities being put up by concessionaires under public-private partnership (PPP).

Bunso Arboretum

The Bunso Arboretum Eco-tourism site is under PPP. It has a protected forest cover spanning 16.5, a semi-deciduous forest with indigenous tress, habitat to several butterflies, plant species and nature trails.

The African Oak tree, locally known as Dahoma, used as a form of communication or raising alarms in the olden days, can be found at the Bunso Eco-tourism site.

It used to be managed by the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute of the Centre for Scientific Industry Research (CSIR) before the PPP agreement.

New additions like a canopy walk, horse line, zip line and herb garden for weddings have been introduced.

Boti Falls

The Boti Falls has also seen some infrastructural development.

The cascading water over the cliffs high above with the encasing Huhunya forest gives a magical moment at the base of the fall.

The Boti falls is a seasonal upper and lower falls which take its source from the Ponpon River. Locals describe the falls as a male and female. Rainbow emerges when the two falls meet.

To get to the base of the Fall, one would have to take an exercise on a 250-concrete stairs .

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Concessionaire of the facility Richard Kilson said the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted on business.

“We started efficient management of the place in 2012. Our work is to provide infrastructure facilities in management of the place. In peak season, we had 2,000 tourists coming in and 200 for lean seasons but Covid robbed all efforts.”

He said plans are underway to finish up some 60 guest rooms, put up a signature zipline, swimming pool and start an afforestation project.

He expressed concern about the inaccessible roads to the Boti Falls and pleaded it gets fixed soon.

“People don’t want to come because of the poor nature of the road. Drivers usually outprice fares deterring potential tourist.”

Tourism Minister Dr Awal Mohammed promised collaborating with the Roads and Finance Minister to get the road to the falls fixed.

“What we intend to do is to work with the Minister of Roads and Finance Minister to fix the roads and tourist would come if the road is in good shape.”

He asked concessionaires to put up appropriate structures in conformity with the tourist sites regulation 209, LI 2393.

“The emphasis now is domestic tourism. So we urge them to put the right structures in place.They should work with the Ghana Tourism Authority to ensure that when people come here their lives are well protected.”

The Tourist Sites Regulations 209, LI 2393 seeks to regulate and license all tourist sites for standards to be met.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Akwasi Agyemang, pointed out marketing would be critical once the standard of facilities at tourist sites and linkage roads are fixed.

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“We are going to market the sites and other tourist sites in the Eastern Region.”

Patronage to tourist sites across the county by foreigners reduced drastically to 200 in 2020 from 1.1 million in 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The figures have informed the Tourism Ministry to create taste and drive for domestic tourism.

Dr Awal Mohammed and his deputy minister, Mark Okraku Mantey, planted a ceremonial tree at the Boti Falls site as part of the Green Ghana agenda.

Experts have said tourism sites go beyond giving patrons exciting feel and also provide therapeutic needs.

By Yvonne Neequaye||Ghana