Ghana for the first time has been included in the list of developing countries that attract tourists based on ethical values, a new report released by Ethical Traveller has said.
Ghana ranks fourth among the ten developing countries. These are: Argentina, Belize, Chile, Ghana, Lithuania, Namibia, Poland, Seychelles, South Africa and Suriname.
Ethical Traveler’s report, “The World’s Best Ethical Destinations” identifies the 10 countries in the developing world that are best protecting their natural environments, promoting responsible travel, and building a tourism industry which provides real benefits to local communities.
Ethical Traveler is a project of the Earth Island Institute, based in San Francisco. The organization has experts with a broad range of expertise in the fields of travel, environment, economy, health and world policy, it says on its website.
According to the report, Ghana joins the 2010 list due to an impressive commitment to genuine democracy, as well as a growing culture of sustainability, environmental consciousness and grassroots efforts towards responsibly improving Ghana for Ghanaians and tourists alike.
Ghana is the third most important tourist destination in West Africa, according to Luigi Cabrini.
Mr. Cabrini, who is Director, Sustainable Development of Tourism of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) said these when he addressed stakeholders in the tourism sector in Ghana.
He said Ghana comes third after Nigeria and Senegal in the sub-region in terms of international arrivals, the GNA has reported.
According to Mr. Cabrini, international tourist arrivals for 2007 was 587,000 whiles tourism receipts for the same year amounted to $908 million with an average annual growth rate between 2000–2007 pegged at 5.7 percent.
Ghana’s Minister of Tourism has also said that the sector is the fourth highest foreign exchange earner for Ghana, and the country earned a total of $1.3 billion in 2008.
According to a B&FT report, projected tourists arrivals for 2008 was pegged at 698,069 with receipts in monetary value amounting to US$1.2 million, as against 586,612 arrivals in 2007 amounting to US$1.17 million.
This, the newspaper said, reflects a consistent increase in tourism revenue over the years.
In 2005 the country earned US$836 million from tourism.
The income generated from these arrivals grew at an even stronger rate, 11.2% annually for the same period, hitting US$680 million in 2005.
The hospitality industry, particularly hotels, had the largest chunk of the revenue taking up 34 percent of the expended income, while the transportation and food sectors had 11 percent each with the entertainment industry enjoying eight per cent, it said.
Domestic tourism last year saw a total of 417,558 arrivals to the country, comprising 303,668 residents visiting 25 tourist sites and 113, 890 non-residents patronising domestic tourism.
The figures indicate that Ghana has not yet hit the intended one million tourists target earmarked in 2007 to coincide with the country’s Golden Jubilee celebrations and the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, since Ghana boasts of many landmark castles and sites used in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
The target was developed to make tourism the leading sector of the economy through foreign exchange earnings and employment creation.
Currently, tourism is one of the fastest growing sector in the economy and is expected to grow at an average rate of 4.1 % per annum over the next two decades.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi