Professor Augustus Addae-Mensah, a Ghanaian professor has called on the government to reduce charges on the application of visas by Tourists in order to encourage many tourists to visit attraction sites within the country.
He said the $150 charge per tourist for a tourism visa was way too high as some countries only charged $50 and others were even free which encouraged and continued to boost tourism in those areas.
Professor Addae-Mensah, one of the founding members ofAnkobra beach resort told a news conference that much needed to be done particularly within the tourism industry to streamline activities in attracting many more tourists into the country to boost local economic growth.
The Conference formed part of activities initiated by the Ankobra beach resort to highlight its contribution in terms of social impact programmes within the 25 years of existence.
The Ankobra Beach Resort, which sits on a 130 acres land stretch in the Nzema East Municipal of the Western Region is an initiative by a Ghanaian Professor, Augustus Kwame Addae-Mensah and his German Friend Florian Wolfart to bring relaxation closer to the people, conserve the natural environment as well improve the socio-economic livelihoods of the people around.
In February 1993, the two friends with the consent of traditional authorities and the government set up the centre near the rich evergreen rain forest to contribute towards the conservation of the rain forest, offer relaxation, recreation and holiday inns to people from around the globe.
More importantly, to allow Africa to meet the world to talk, play, work and exchange ideas for the benefits of humanity.
Professor Addae-Mensah said the 25 years of the existence of the Ankobra Beach, had given birth to many socially impacted programmes and projects including; assistance for self-help, education, health, social works and the conversation of the rain forest.
“The beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of Ghana’s west coast offering over 16 generously planned bungalows for the discerning traveller amidst relaxation, lifestyle, adventure, professional hospitality, excellent dinning and superb service” he added.
He said the beach was aimed at contributing to the development of the local community with environmentally and culturally conscious and exemplary model of eco-friendly tourism.
The Beach Resort according to him was also focused on improving the level of education and literacy among the communities they were surrounded with, “The management of the beach continue to support local schools with educational materials, equipment and computers to improve academic work in the area.”
He said every year, 30 teachers selected from schools in the municipality underwent four weeks intensive training on new methodology and pedagogy.
“The Friends of Ankobra, a group of people in Germany provides for the St Theresa’s Vocational training and we have so far assisted over 1000 students with scholarship to transform their living conditions”.
On health, annually, proceeds from the beach and with support from the founders of the Beach bring in doctors from Germany to the Eikwe and Axim Hospitals to provide specialised healthcare services.
Health clubs have also be formed in the community schools to promote hygiene practices among teenagers.
The management of the beach resort on annual basis grade the road linking the beach to the Axim Township and so far 5 kilometres had been done.
Touching on Water and sanitation, the management explained that the Ankobra Beach Resort through this social intervention programmes had also provided a borehole for the Brawerie community in AXIM.
“Under the waste management project, the Ankobra beach together with the Environmental Protection Agency have started a project to educate Basic school children on the proper handling of waste to avoid littering the beaches and communities with plastic waste”.
Mr Claus Egger, Business Development Manager of the Resort said the waste and environment management project now worked with six communities to ensure cleaner communities and environment and was grateful to the Adamus resources for supporting the initiative to improve hygiene particularly among young people in the area.
“This project also teaches the fishermen on best fishing practices to increase yields.We have the support of the chiefs and already, 35 chiefs have signed on to support….It is envisaged that at the end of the project, communities, would become socially responsible to the environment.”
On Agriculture he said the beach with a vast land for cultivation of organic foods for their culinary believe much could be done in terms of Ghana‘s rich forest and land and currently the beach was promoting the use of bamboo as against timber logging for charcoal in the renewable energy production.
“Bamboo, is now the fastest biomass in the world which only takes two year to mature and management believes that effective collaboration with relevant bodies like the Technical Universities lots could be achieved in enhancing the growth of the country,” he added.
Mr Egger said more than 400 farmers had been trained in best farming practices and eco-tourism must be the way to go and the Ankobra Beach Resort model, was a perfect example that must be supported by stakeholders in the hospitality and tourism business in creating jobs and building resilient local economy.