The Northern Savannah Ecological Zone(NSEZ) that boast of 63 districts representing 54.4 % of Ghana’s total land mass, doesn’t only account for the largest share of Ghana’s eco-tourism resources. The Northern Savannah Zone also has rich potential in terms of historical, archaeological, monumental, cultural and community tourism, among others.
Indeed, the tourism potential of the NSEZ so far captured in some documents, mentioned during presentations in tourism marketing materials and manuals appears to be woefully inadequate and doesn’t tell the whole story yet .The few ones continued to be hyped in the media and on event platforms, tends to overshadow the numerous others that are even unknown to many Ghanaians.
There are numerous agro-product related festivals such as the yam, guinea-fowl, etc. and this presents a good opportunity for agro-tourism products development and marketing .Israel is on record to be raking substantial revenue from innovative agro-tourism events targeting popular agro-products as festivals .The age-long locally brewed beer (pito) from sorghum or guinea corn could be one in the NSEZ.
Smart Travel and Tour operators could also come out with tourism investment packages targeting potential investors interested in investment exploratory visits to the NSEZ. The NSEZ abounds in investment opportunities in agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, hospitality, IT, Education, Banking and Finance among others.
Turning challenges into opportunities
The foregoing expose on the immense tourism potential of the NSEZ has however for decades been embattled by numerous challenges. The lapse of many tourist attraction spots in the zone still being in their raw states and poorly managed,while some well developed and managed ones are also being poorly advertised and marketed, are rather opportunities begging for investments.
SADA has since bemoaned the fact that accommodation facilities and leisure support services that complement tourism is almost non-existent and has urged that,a comprehensive plan should be developed to boost the tourism sector. These aside, SADA maintains, government has to develop a good transportation system that connects all the tourist sites to major road networks.
Indeed,governments must be forth coming with political and financial commitment in this respect.If desert country UAE is making billions annually from artificially created tourism attractions since natural eco-tourism resources are almost non-existent, in the country ,why can’t the NSEZ be supported and well positioned to even do more than that for Ghana?.
SADA’s timely Tourism Promotion Summit
In order to further explore these opportunities, SADA organized a stakeholders consultative forum to discuss the upcoming Northern Ghana Tourism Investment and Promotion Summit event in Tamale. The Summit was supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives, GTA, GTDC, GIPC, GHATOF and SADA are collectively putting their shoulders to the wheel to transform the zone into a preferred tourism destination for all classes of tourists.
The Programme Officer for Tourism, Culture and Special Events of SADA, Mrs. Eunice Afari, in her opening statement, said that the Tourism Investment and Promotion Summit is “to whip up investor interest in the development of eco tourism clusters, conferences and special products such as paragliding, abseiling, cable car, skiing and eco lodges at the Nakpanduri Scarp, Makango Resort Development Project, Salaga slave market project, MICE facility.
She listed other tourism attractions to include the Daboya Smock production village, Zoological gardens, Botanical Gardens, Paga and Zenga Crocodile Ponds Development, Bolgatanga Arts and Craft villages, basket, leather works, Gbelle Game Reserve, Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary and the Gwollu Slave Walls as well the local music, dance and cultural festivals in the area.
Mrs. Eunice Afari pointed out that SADA and its partners were looking at exposing more students and organized groups to the various tourist centers in the area through an inter-school tourism awareness competition as part of the Summit.
She said there would also be seminars with investors Development Partners and industry players to solicit capacity building opportunities in aid of skills development and also draw a roadmap towards the transformation and development of the various tourist sites in the zone.
The Summit she noted would also see photo exhibitions and video documentaries of existing potentials as well as tourist attractions across the zone.
The Northern Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Alexander Kwame Nketia on his part noted that the Northern sector was gifted with a lot of tourism potentials but he decried the low investment to develop those tourist sites.
He revealed that the government and for that matter the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with other partners such as SADA and the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives was ready for Private Sector partnership to develop most of the sites.He was confident that when most of the sites in the Savannah Zone are developed and the histories behind them are properly packaged and told to the world, Ghana would turn into one of the most preferred tourism destinations and learning or study point for most institutions across the world.
The Northern Ghana Tourism Investment and Promotion Summit was organized to coincide with the celebration of the 2017 National World Tourism Day to be hold in Tamale on the 27thSeptember 2017.