Business News of 2014-04-01

Forestry Commission seeks $10m to boost ecotourism

The Forestry Commission (FC) is seeking $10 million to upgrade the Shai Hills Resource Reserve to boost its ecotourism potential and make it a distinctive tourism destination in the sub-region.
According to the Commission, the proximity of the Shai Hills Reserve to Accra, coupled with its diverse and rich cultural and archaeological sites, makes it a huge economic asset that should be developed to promote Ghana’s tourism drive and earnings.
Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah, the Executive Director of the Wildlife Division of the FC, disclosed this when the Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry toured the facility over the weekend to acquaint itself with the workings and challenges of the reserve.
Shai Hills reserve
Nana Adu-Nsiah told the committee members that if the needed investment was mobilised to upgrade the infrastructure of the facility, the Shai Hills reserve could become the cash cow of the tourism sector.
He said the FC’s main thrust to improve the viability of the reserve was to enhance security by fencing the whole area, increasing the existing number of animals, introducing exotic species such as giraffes and zebras and putting up world-class recreational facilities in the reserve.
The FC intends fencing the entire 33-kilometre land area of the reserve to stem encroachment and poaching, construct new roads and rehabilitate the road network to the reserve.
It also wants to put up utilities, accommodation and outdoor facilities to attract patronage to the reserve. This includes a 100-bed middle to upper level eco-lodges, game viewing platforms and outdoor reception areas.
Strategic location
Nana Adu-Nsiah said with its strategic location, the reserve had the capacity to increase the number of tourists by 100 per cent or more if modern ecotourism infrastructure was provided for a nature-based experience for visitors.
The reserve now boasts animal species such as the Western Kob, Busbuck, Oribi and the commonly sighted baboons.
It has a rich bird life with over 160 species with unique characteristics including ground hornbills, bustards and green and grey parrots.
Additionally, the area, which is the last remnant of the Accra Plains, has a terrain and structure that can support adventure tourism and the FC intends to promote rock climbing and guided hiking tours on the plains
The reserve, which has four distinctive caves and archaeological sites, also harbours the ancestral homes and religious sites of the Shai people.
Mr Albert Abongo, MP for Bongo and Chairman of the Committee, was of the view that the reserve had huge revenue potential for Ghana and pledged the committee’s support to ensure that the necessary assistance was sought to enable the game and wildlife reserve to realise its potential.