Ecotourism? Is this just new word or a great invention in tourism? Generally is is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”. It is spreading like wildfire and contributing greatly to many developing economies. Ghana is one of such countries benefitting from ecotourism. Recently, Ghana has grown to become a leader in ecotourism and is doing an amazing job at maintaining a great link between tourists,local communities and ecotourism activists. Key examples of ecotourism sites in Ghana include the Kakum National Park, The Mole National Park and the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary. Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online travel agents look into the impacts of ecotourism on the Ghanaian economy.
Let’s look at protecting natural habitats .The mere sight of this may just switch you to the main bodies responsible for conservation and maintenance of natural habitats. However, this is a collective responsibility because it’s benefits are there for all to see. Tourism that ensures that natural habitats and wildlife are conserved. How does protecting natural habitats impact our economy? First of all, this will ensure that as a nation, we don’t spend extra funds in renovating and refurbishing these ecotourism sites regularly which is a waste of funds that can be used to cater for other sectors. Also if we have a good running ecotourism sector, we are sure to rake in more revenue as this is environmentally friendly and is attractive to many foreign tourists since not many countries around the world have such natural tourist sites. One very successful ecotourism story in Ghana is at the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary where the local community runs monkey tours through the forest. This helps the community protect the monkeys and the forest as well as bring in good revenue which can be used to fund development projects in the community and beyond.
Every venture’s primary aim is to be profitable. Ecotourism in Ghana is one of such viable means for profitability. This is made very possible by the fact that the ecotourism sites are usually natural resources and need just minimal investment to maintain and manage. However, the revenue that they can generate are overwhelming and aside the monetary benefits, ecotourism is profitable for community developments. Many small towns which otherwise would have taken a long time to develop and get access to modern facilities and amenities now have great facilities. Hospitals, banks, schools, portable drinking water and electricity supply. Ecotourism is just profitable anyhow we look at it.
Foreign companies and investors are naturally drawn to booming sectors and industries. A sector which is environmentally friendly but also contributes immensely to the economic development of the country needs more concentration. Tourism in general is an immense contributor to the growth of the Ghanaian economy with recent figures from Jumia Travel’s Hospitality Report indicating Tourism as the 4th highest foreign exchange earner in Ghana after gold, cocoa and oil. With more concentration on ecotourism and better policies in place, there is great promise for growth and development in this industry.
Credit : Bennet Otoo, Jumia Travel