The “Beyond the Return” initiative was one of the key drivers to the sharp increase in tourist visitations to the Kakum National Park in 2022, Mr Michael Amonoo, the Marketing Officer for the Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust (GHCT), has said.
Beyond the Return, is a follow-up to the “Year of Return” launched in 2019 by the government to invite people of African race to visit Ghana to commemorate 400 years since the first enslaved Africans touched down in Hampton, in the English colony of Virginia in America.
Mr Amonoo told the Ghana News Agency, a total of 136,256 visited the Kakum National Park in 2022 as compared to 84,491 in 2021, indicating a 61.26 increase in visitations.
The ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative attracted hundreds of people from the diaspora including Usher Raymond, American R&B sensational, Kendrick Lamar, American rapper, Chance The Rapper, with his friend Vic Mensa, who are Ghanaian-Americans, Cardi B, American rapper, Steve Harvey, American author and TV star, and Memphis Depay, Barcelona attacker, among others.
In all, the month of December recorded the highest visitations of 16,838 whilst February registered the lowest of 3,913.
However, in March, April, July, August, October, November and December, the figures crossed the 10,000 minimum visitations threshold per month.
On the domestic front, the facility registered 25,881 Ghanaian adults, 2,8732 tertiary students, 10,107, Senior High School students and 54,908 basic school students.
For the Children’s Park, bird watching, tree house and campsites, the facility recorded a total of 1,313 visitors many of whom were children.
Underscoring other factors for the increase, Mr Amonoo mentioned the celebration of Independence Day in the Region, regular visitations by Senior High Schools, “December in Ghana” activities, and Christmas festivities.
Projecting into 2023, he said the management of the facility was working assiduously to scale up publicity and promotions to schools, institutions, and individuals to increase visitations to the park.
Mr Amonoo was delighted that with the emerging complexities of climate change and its dire implications, many schools had taken keen interest in visiting the facility to inculcate in students the essence of environmental consciousness.
The facility was Ghana’s most visited natural attraction, located about 33 kilometres from Cape Coast, the capital of the Central Regional capital.
The forest reserve was established in 1931 and received acknowledgement as a National Park in 1992. The Kakum National Park forms the Kakum Conservation Area together with the Assin Attandanso Resource Reserve, encompassing 145 sq miles (375 sq km) and is named after the Kakum River which takes its source from the protected area.
In March 1995, Kakum National Park became home to the only canopy walkway on the African continent. The walkway provides both tourists and researchers privileged access to the rainforest’s canopy.
The 350-metre-long bridge connects seven tree tops; it is constructed of wire rope, aluminium ladders, wooden planks, and safety netting. To protect the trees, no nails or bolts pierce the bark.
Up in the canopy, one may see species of birds and insects that are almost impossible to find on the ground level. Management of the Kakum National Park is a joint effort between Ghana’s Wildlife Department of Forestry Commission and Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust, a non-governmental (NGO) organization dedicated to conserving ecosystems and biodiversity.