Ghana’s tourism sector is expected to grow at an average rate of 4.1% per annum over the next two decades, driven largely by the country’s unique historical, cultural and natural attractions. Centrally located on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, Ghana has a total land area of about 238,540 square km and a 540 km picturesque coastline. In addition to being home to many historical landmarks and natural attractions, Ghana enjoys the unique status of most frequent initial point of entry for Westerners visiting Africa for the first time.
The Ministry of Tourism is responsible for the development of the industry through its implementing agency, the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA). The GTB plays the role of a national tourism authority. The Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), brings together the various private associations in the industry, providing the basis for a public-private partnership. Recognizing the potential of the sector, the Ministry of Tourism with the assistance of the World Tourism Organization and the UNDP produced the National Tourism Development Plan (1996-2010). The central goal of this 15-year plan is to strengthen Ghana’s status as an internationally competitive tourist destination.
Historic and cultural sites
Over 26 castles, forts, and ruins built between the 14th and 18th Centuries by the major European powers, (i.e. the Portuguese, British, French, Danes, the Dutch, Swedes and Germans), still remain in Ghana. UNESCO lists these as notable World Heritage Sites. Indeed, Ghana has the advantage of being the only country in the world where six World Heritage Sites occur within a 7km radius in the Cape Coast – Elmina area. Of particular and solemn significance are the Elmina and Cape Coast Castles which were major holding centers and exit points for Africans bound for the Americas during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Other cultural attractions include traditional buildings, historic urban districts, archaeological sites, and ancient and modern monuments.
Beach and lakefront areas
Ghana has sandy and picturesque beaches in the Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions. Major beach destinations include Gomoa Fetteh, Winneba, Brenu, Elmina, Busua and Miamia, where the surf can range from gentle rollers to sizeable breakers. In addition to these oceanfront locations, the Lake Volta estuary is an area of great scenic beauty with its open beaches and picnic spots shaded by palm trees. The sand bars are nesting grounds for sea birds and endangered species of turtle. Many spots on the Lake area are becoming popular fishing, boating and water sports locations. Ghana also has scenic waterfalls in attractive rural and forest settings. The Densu, Pra, Ankobra and Tano rivers which traverse the forest belt and empty into the Atlantic also providing avenues for cruises, canoeing and rafting excursions.
Ghana’s popular natural heritage sites include the newly developed Kakum National Park, which boasts of the only canopy walkway in all of Africa. There is also a Hippo Sanctuary in Wechiau – which the Earthwatch Institute recently voted as the third best conservation site in the world – the Mole National Park, and the Cape Three Points Forest Reserve, which is the nearest landmass to the center of the earth. Coastal lagoons, exotic wetlands, crocodile ponds, wildlife parks, and scenic mountain trails are also among the list of Ghana’s natural heritage sites.
Other attractions include gold mines in Ashanti, hydroelectric dams on the Volta, cocoa plantations, and events such as the Pan African Historical Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) and Emancipation Day celebrations. Ghana also attracts a significant number of business travelers, and is host to various exhibitions such as the ECOWAS trade fair, INDUTECH (Ghana Industry and Technology Exhibition), GIFEX (Ghana Industry & Furniture Exhibition), as well as annual conferences of the mining, energy and IT industries. Furthermore, Ghana is a host to major sporting events organized by CAF (African Football Confederation),the International Tennis Association, and the International Amateur Athletics Association. Major football events in Ghana include the African Club and Cup of Nations Championships and West African Football Union games. Other events include Davis Cup tennis matches and international judo, taekwondo, and body building competitions.
Lake resorts on Dodi Island on the Volta system and the Bosumtwi, Marinas at Sogakope and Ada on the lower Volta system and Keta Lagoon; Beach resorts at the Marine Drive, Prampram – New Ningo (Greater Accra), Gomoa-Feteh, Winneba and Brenu- Akyinim (Central Region), Busua, Cape Three Points and Miamia (Western Region).