West Coast Tourism Region of Ghana
The consolidation of the western coast of Ghana as a tourist destination is the culmination of a major ST-EP initiative one year after its completion thanks to funding from Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This new tourism destination, which stretches over 172 km, is based mainly on seaside resorts with beautiful white-sand beaches, fishing villages such as Cape Three Points surrounded by palms and rubber trees, the Ankasa National Park, and the mangrove forests of Amansuri.
This ST-EP initiative, which received the technical assistance of a UNWTO Volunteer, comprised three phases executed between 2006 and 2010. Seven villages–Akwidaa, Axim, Busua, Butre, Cape Three Points, Dixcove, and Miamia—benefited from training actions for the identification and development of tourism products and their subsequent marketing. Various circuits were thus created, notably around the historical architecture of Fort Batenstein in Butre, and Metal Cross in Dixcove, which bear witness to the European presence in the 17th century.
Great importance was also given to the establishment of commercial links between businesses in the tourism value chain, driven by a small-grant fund to purchase equipment. Eighty commercial links were thus created between public, private and community actors ranging from the supply of fresh produce by local farmers for hotels to the alliance with tour operators for the marketing of tours offered by the village committees.
This initiative led to the creation of a committee for village tourism development in order to develop a management framework and good governance as well as a destination management organization (DMO), a public-private alliance legalized in 2010, within the Ghana Tourist Board, to coordinate and promote tourism investments on the West Coast according to the recommendations of the marketing strategy carried out in the region, and the manual of recommendations for investors.
The DMO thus encouraged the creation of five new hotels, as well as many jobs and the promotion of various activities including bicycle tours, with Cape Three Points as the starting point, promoted on the website www.ghanawestcoastmountainbiking.com
For more information on the West Coast tourism region of Ghana, visit www.ghanawestcoast.com
Tourism development in the coastal region has made a significant impact as illustrated by the following experiences:
- Butre TTDC: A Town Tourism Development Committee is a community governance structure in charge of welcoming tourists to the community. As a result of the ST-EP project, every community in the GWC has a TTDC office with trained staff. They receive visitors and inform them about the different activities they can enjoy and the attractions they can visit. Butre TTDC is one of the most active and successful; it received 1,600 tourists in 2010. The local official guides offer tours to Fort Batenstein, a boat trip to Nana Butre Lagoon and different hiking excursions.
The money from tourism activities is deposited into a community bank account and so far the community has been able to rebuild their bridge, cut some trees that were becoming a safety issue, construct a football park and even build a borehole. These actions have helped promote a positive approach to tourism within the community and some people have begun developing some SMEs which are supposed by the money tourists spend. All these actions are strengthening the local economy.
- Sofia, the Seamstress from Cape Three Points: Sophia is above all,a hard working woman. Located in the small village of Cape Three Points, she spends many hours in front of her sewing machine, just only taking the necessary break to feed her three children and attend the house chores, or farming when the time is due. After finishing her primary education and not having enough money to afford further studies, she opted to develop her technical skills on sewing and started working. With her husband’s help she started her own business, sawing and making dresses for her neighbours. In 2010 she applied for the microcredit program implemented within the framework of the ST-EP project. She was selected for the loan support and with the money provided she has been able to expand her business. She is happy about how things are going and she is already thinking about the future. First to diversify her production by designing bags, wallets for tourists and then start a training school to provide skills to the young ladies in the community.
- Bisa Nyame in Busua: Bisa Nyame or “Ask God” is a popular place in Busua, also known by the villagers by “last hour” as it is open till midnight. It is located close to the taxi station and it is the stop over for many people, locals and visitors, who want to enjoy a nice breakfast outside. The owner, Ms Fasara Damase, was formerly selling provisions at the place but she needed to increase her income so she decided to start offering some prepared food. This new idea came about in 2010 after receiving technical support and small equipment from the ST-EP project, and it has been really successful. Locals and every time more visitors love her sandwiches, either egg or tuna, and she has recently increased the offer by adding delicious chocolate and banana pancakes to have while drinking milo, tea or coffee.
- James, the guide from Akwidaa: James had a formal education up to middle school but he could not continue due to financial difficulties. Realizing the potential of tourism in his village, he took advantage of the presence of the ST-EP project and undertook training to become a guide. He is one of the two guides who have solidly committed themselves a tour guiding. “As time went on and my capacity in tour guiding increased, I spent less time on the farm, especially during tourism peak seasons”. These were the works of James when he was asked by field officers whether he had other sources of income apart tour guiding. Currently he combines his activities of tour guide with farming and he is also running a local pub which serves both tourists and locals. This last venture, he managed to start with the money coming from tour guiding. His is happily married with two children and is planning a good education for them. Commenting on James’ successful experience, the chairman of the TTDC in Akwidaa said that “the impact of the ST-EP initiative on the welfare of families in Akwidaa was unprecedented”.