Written by Edinam Alifo.
“Akwaaba – Welcome to Ghana”. This is the warm greeting a visitor will receive upon disembarking at the Kotoka International Airport in the Capital City of Ghana, Accra. Ghana is located on the West Coast of Africa, about 750 km. north of the equator in the same sub-region as the Republic of Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cote d’ Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, and others. With a population of about 20 million people, Ghana is arguably the most peaceful country in the sub-region and has remained peaceful since it gained independence from the British in 1957. Ghana is presently a democratic country and has indeed changed government peacefully through democratic election for the first time in 2000 after three successive elections. In recognition of the peaceful political atmosphere and the country’s determination to enhance the living conditions of her people through the promotion of capitalism and free trade, President Clinton selected Ghana as his first place of arrival during his short visit to Africa in 1997. Some of the great people the nation has produced include the current UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.
Ghana is rich with natural resources such as gold and timber. It is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa; and it has the world’s largest artificial Lake. Due to the rich gold deposits of Ghana, the country used to be called, “The Gold Coast” until 1957 when it gained independence and changed its name to ” Ghana “. Ghana has a very rich culture and traditional identity, which makes it distinct from the other countries in the sub-region. It is a developing economy with a significant number of expatriates, which are engaged in business and commercial activities. The people of Ghana are very hospitable and friendly. There are numerous tourist attractions scattered all over the length and breadth of the country and attract about 500,000 tourists yearly, over the last few years, and mainly from the US, Europe, and the Caribbean.
For every visitor, Ghana is a special destination in Africa, a different Africa with a wide range of attractions and facilities. It dazzles you with its historic past, and charms you with its natural beauty, which envelops you wherever you go. It is a destination of exotic and rare plants species; unadulterated traditions and cultures exemplified in her festivals. The tragic and yet captivating history portrayed by UNESCO, i.e. The World Heritage Sites, is represented in Ghana by old slave Castles, which housed the Dungeons through which live slaves were channeled to Europe. The Dungeons still contain chains that were used on the slaves that were routed through Ghana. These facilities are important historical sites, which attract thousands of tourists yearly.
Some of the very important and interesting attractions include Waterfalls, Lakes, Beaches, a Crocodile Pond, National Parks, and Sanctuaries for wild vegetation and animals. Others include a National Museum, Wildlife Protected Areas, Cave Explorations, Natural Vegetation and Forests, Historical Markets, Forts, and Castles built by the early Europeans that arrived in the then Gold Coast. The last resting-place for the President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who was also a famous Pan-Africanist, is a major international attraction in the heart of the capital city of Accra. There is a historic Center for Culture in Accra, where traditional arts, crafts, textiles, and handicrafts from all over Ghana can be found. The local day and night markets are scintillating scenes with their stalls illuminated by hundreds of lanterns and candles.
The tourism industry is ably supported by reliable first and second class hospitality facilities such as good transportation for tourists, effectively operated car rental services, excellent hotel accommodations, and restaurants. Ghana offers a wide range of hotel accommodation for her growing economy and tourist industry: cosmopolitan, metropolitan, town, and country hotels and park lodges of varying comfort, elegance, and convenience abound. Ghana ‘s hotels are classified according to international star rating system with 5 star as the highest and one star the minimum internationally acceptable quality. In addition, there are local budget hotels. These facilities are very modern and technologically advanced as any of their kinds in Europe or the US; they however have relatively low rates. There are modern telecommunication facilities as well as first class roads, seaports, and a modernized international airport in Accra, which has become a significant hub linking flights directly between the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, etc.
Recent development of modern hotels, convention facilities, and theaters are specifically geared towards meeting the challenge of Ghana being Africa ‘s newest tourist and convention destination with Europe and the United States as its biggest markets. There is so much to see and experience in Ghana, the real tourist will return after a first visit. This promotional piece cannot in any manner cover all the interesting areas; but I can assure anyone who is interested in exciting experiences that Ghana is basically for a class of people who have passion for traveling, passion for excellent service, and appreciation for peace and serenity. This is why we need to take a trip to Ghana, the land of Gold in the very near future.