Ghana: Ecotourism Is Becoming a Major Revenue Earner; Neglected for a Long Period, Ecotourism Is Now Fashionable in Ghana. Tourists Are Encouraged to Visit Unique and Interesting Destinations, to Have Fulfilled Cultural Exchanges, and Contribute to the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Environment

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The Ghana Tourist Board (GTB), the regulator of the tourism industry in the country, has drawn up land use plans to guide investors to lands around 21 selected attraction spots as priorities for development.

According to Frank Kofigah, GTB's planning and business development manager, the land use plans are meant to ensure and control the judicious use of land around the attraction spots. The objective is to guide investors as to what projects are acceptable in order to avoid unplanned development around the attractions.

GTB also seeks to establish land banks around the attractions for investors. This is to avoid land litigation cases which often come about through double sales and ownership disputes. The GTB will establish ownership of these lands, pay adequate compensation to their owners, and acquire them for investors.

The GTB has been praised for its highly successful "Domestic Tourism Awareness Drive" which has hugely enhanced its Community-Based Ecotourism Projects (CBEPs).

Ecotourism or the conservation and preservation of natural resources, is a new discovery on the tourism scene. Ecotourism seeks to create wealth in the indigenous communities and reduce poverty. It attempts to provide an alternative livelihood to the host communities, whilst conserving and preserving the natural and cultural resources. It combines the experiences of the natural environment with the culture and lifestyle of the host communities.

The GTB, in collaboration with foreign partners--the Nature Conservation Research Centre, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, and Peace Corps-Ghana--has 15 ongoing CBEPs around the countryside. They are being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

These selected attraction destinations boast of unique natural endowments against the backdrop of interesting cultures, in basically rural communities. They range from picturesque views of landscapes, lush vegetation and waterfalls, hikes through tropical rain forests, mountain-climbing, encounters with endangered species of monkeys, crocodiles, hippos and elephants, as well as interactions with friendly village folks.

To ensure the sustainability of the CBEPs, there are Tourism Management Teams (TMTs), composed of representatives of the host communities, GTB, the host district assemblies and other interested groups at each destination. …