Talk about tourism and what readily comes to mind is adventure, that is visiting interesting natural or historic sites or having a feel of other people’s culture, religion and way of living.
Currently, tourism has become one of the main focus of an economic revolutionary, where attention has been directed to rake in resources.
China, for instance, looks within to promote its tourism.
It is glorious to see how indigenes love to visit their own tourist sites during their leisure times or vacations and this undoubtedly supports the economy.
Meanwhile, in Ghana, interesting tourist sites are gradually becoming deserted due to the lack of proper management, while a goldmine of an opportunity awaits to be tapped. Ghana’s goldmine in tourism is arguably in the Volta Region.
The well-endowed tourism potentials in the region, together with the friendly and hospitable nature of the people, have won the region the accolade, “Ghana’s tourism microcosm.”
One area that stands tall in terms of the tourism potential of the region is the Hohoe Municipality.
The hallmark of this municipality is its abundance of ecotourist sites of mountains blending with low green plains, spectacular waterfalls, sanctuaries and ancient caves.
It is in this municipality that the country can boast of the highest mountain in the country, Afadjato, located between the Liati Wote and the Gbledi communities. Also the highest waterfalls in West Africa: Wli, Tsatsadu at Alavanyo and the Wadjakli at Likpe Todome.
Other tourist sites are the ancient old iron mines at Akpafu-Todzi, the Talking River at Godenu and the four ancestral caves at Likpe Todome.
Giving the plethora of opportunities provided by tourism, it is surprising that the tourist sites, though operational, have not received the adequate attention for their full development.
There is no information about the revenue generated from these tourist sites annually, but according to the Hohoe Municipal Assembly, revenue from these tourists sites are not up to 10 per cent of the internally generated revenue of the assembly.
Investors, both local and foreign, who really want to mine the ‘gold’ of these sites in the Hohoe Municipality, according to the Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Ted Ofori, are welcome and with community-government-investor collaboration, they could work out how to develop the sites.
The tourism industry in Ghana is generally beset with numerous problems. Prominent among them are the dearth and absence of tourism infrastructures and supporting institutions that would manage the sector properly.
It is important that tourism is sustainably developed by providing all supporting and essential infrastructure that are lacking, which could collectively enhance tourism experience of potential tourists.
Steps to improve tourism
The Hohoe Assembly, realising the huge potential that could support the development of the municipality and the country, in terms of placing it on the world map of tourism, has taken a lead to revamp tourism in the area.
Mr Ofori explained to the Daily Graphic that a sub-committee of the tourism sector in the municipality had been formed to oversee all issues about tourism and how best they could be developed for revenue.
One issue affecting the development of these attractions is litigation. Using the Wli waterfalls as an example, the MCE indicated that there was a pending case in court over the rightful persons to manage the place.
He explained that although the place was opened to the public, not much was being done to attract people there.
“This is affecting the revenue that could have been generated,” he said.
Another issue was accommodation for revellers who visited the areas during vacations. A lack of adequate five-star hotels was a contributory factor to that.
For a start, the Hohoe Municipality is to benefit from six hotel facilities to be built in the Volta Region.
According to the MCE, the government was negotiating with some investors to build a 40-bedroom first-class hotel in the municipality. The design of the structure, he said, had already been drawn.
“Our gold is tourism. We want to make use of all opportunities available to us to change the fortunes of the municipality. We cannot do it as an assembly, but we can bring in somebody who has the money to work with us,” he said.
He added that the assembly was in contact with the chiefs in the municipality to make available 20 acres of land for the hotel project.
“We won’t take the land for free. The benefits to the landowners will be great,” he said.
Strategic marketing is key
Another issue that was affecting tourism was lack of a good road network at these sites. The Eastern corridor road connects to many of these tourist sites. In its deplorable state, the fortunes of tourism equally dwindled.
Some residents of Hohoe, for instance, have advocated a public-private partnership agreement for the road to be constructed, whereby there will be tollbooths to recoup the investment.
Meanwhile, the Volta Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr Alexander, has emphasised the need for the use of technology to market the tourism potential in the country.
According to him, it was high time the country took advantage of the massive and sometimes cheap digital platforms to promote tourism.