GNA- Mr. Kwabena Acheampong, Deputy Minister of Tourism, on Saturday said private and public sector collaboration was vital to the sustenance and expansion of tourism in the country. The country has various segments of the tourism product to exploit, develop and market aggressively on the highly competitive world arena which can only be well managed when local and foreign investors backup government’s plans actions in that respect.
Mr. Acheampong was launching the Avatime Gemi Ecotourism Society (AGOETOUSO), a Non Governmental Organization (NGO), at Amedzofe in the Volta Region.
He said: “The ministry(of tourism) has a vision to promote domestic tourism through music and other forms of entertainment and attraction sites across the country. This, we believe would increase excitement and local patronage of tourism sites.”
On ecotourism, he said, the concept embraces the principle of sustainable tourism to contribute actively to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and local and indigenous communities in its planning, development and operation contributing to the well being of the people. He indicated that the concept of Community Base Organization (CBO) has become the bedrock on which ecotourism thrives therefore the ministry as one of its objectives was supporting the use of tourism as a tool in creating wealth and reducing poverty at the rural level.
He urged the AGOETOUSO to work as a team and in close partnership with the district assembly and all the stakeholders to take ecotourism to a level that would encourage the creation of more tourism societies to support the development of the tourism sector through private and public collaboration. Mr. Sammy Akagbor, Chairman of AGOETOUSO, said the NGO seeks to develop the capacity of the indigenes of the Avatime traditional area to rake in maximum benefits from the tourism industry.
He said the AGOETOUSO has redeveloped the original trail to the Amedzofe waterfalls to enable all able persons irrespective of age to visit the fall and also to promote community based tourism to generate employment and income among the rural poor. “The purpose is intended to help in the development and improvement of the vast and many other potential tourist sites including accessibility, documentation and promotion of the culture tourism values of the traditional area”, he said. Mr. Akagbor appealed to other NGOs and donor agencies to provide both technical and financial support for various surveys, studies and documentary activities as well as funds for the land owners who would be requested to offer land for the project.
The AGOETOUSO is the brainchild of the Paramount Chief of the Area, Torgbe Osea Adjatekpor VII, who has also instituted a tourism committee to oversee tourism related activities in the nine communities which make up the Avatime Traditional Area. A challenge cup mountain hiking competition was organized among seven Avatime villages of Amedzofe, Vane, Dzogbefeme, Biakpa, Gbadzeme, Fume and Dzokpe as part of the ceremony as well as fund raising for the development of the society. Avatime’s is blessed with a natural beauty of mountainous features including valleys, canyons and cliffs all enveloped in a cool climate.