Wildlife Division courts investors to develop Ghana’s ecotourism

The Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission has assured the business community and corporate organisations of real dividends and satisfaction if they invest in Ghana’s ecotourism.

The Division said the country could rake in millions of dollars and create thousands of jobs from nature-based tourism if enough investments were channelled into the sector to attract tourists across the globe.

Consequently, the Forestry Commission has set up the Stakeholder and Ecotourism Directorate under the Wildlife Division to explore the non-consumptive value of the forest, develop the country’s ecotourism, and rake in revenue.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency ahead of the 2023 World Wildlife Day, Dr Richard Gyimah, the Director, Stakeholder and Ecotourism, said the country’s wildlife protected areas are prime and fertile for ecotourism development.

He said the Kakum National Park (Central Region), the Mole National Park(Savanna Region), the Shai Hills Resource Reserve (Greater Accra Region), zoos and other protected areas could be revamped and equipped with the necessary infrastructure to create value and conserve the environment.

“We have about 21 Wildlife protected areas, which together constitute close to 14,000 square kilometres, approximately 5.6 per cent of the land mass of Ghana.

“These are all areas that can be developed into ecotourism because we can get nature-based tourism out of them.” Dr Gyimah said.

Ecotourism involves traveling to remote and unique hotspots where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the major attractions.

The Global Ecotourism Market was estimated to hit $270.41 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $520bn by 2027.

Dr Gyimah said the ecotourism sector thrived on investment, adding that the Government alone could not mobilise resources to upgrade facilities and provide the requisite infrastructure.

He said a recent assessment conducted by the Division indicated that the country would require between 2-3 million dollars to provide “basic infrastructure” for one tourist site.

“Ecotourism holds an enormous potential for Ghana and it is important that we invest in the sector and derive the maximum benefit…We need to improve our sites and all is money. The Government alone cannot shoulder all these infrastructure needs,” he said.

The tourism sector is currently the third largest contributor to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In 2021, the sector generated revenue of $2.1 billion and was projected to contribute $2.3 billion with one million visitors in 2022.

The Government has projected that by 2024, the tourism sector should rake in four-billion dollars for the country.

The World Wildlife Day is observed every year on March 3 to celebrate the beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness on the benefits that its conservation provides for mankind.

This year’s celebration, which is on the theme: “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation” coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – ratified by Ghana in 1975.

Dr Gyimah appealed to the citizenry to support the Division to deliver on its mandate of ensuring sustainable management and development of Ghana’s wildlife and their habitats to optimise their contribution to national socio-economic development.

“We should take wildlife conservation seriously because our very existence depends on how well we manage our wildlife resources. The more we conserve our wildlife habitats, the better it will be for us as a nation,” he said.

Source: Ghana News Agency