A GNA feature by Bertha Badu-Agyei/Millicent Tamakloe
The Eastern Region is undoubtedly one of the tourist hubs in the country endowed with popular and striking sites.
Some of them are; the Boti waterfalls in the Yilo Krobo municipality, the Akaa waterfalls and Asenema water falls, the ‘Obosabea’ known as the Fertility rock, the birthplace of the famous Okomfo Anokye, all in the Okere district.
Other sightseeing places include; Tini waterfalls in the Atiwa East district and the famous Aburi botanical gardens, all of which attract both local and international tourists on regular basis to the region.
The latest facility which is adding to tourism attraction is the Bunso Arboretum or Bunso Eco Park, a botanical garden located at Bunso in the Abuakwa South municipality.
It is a complete park with several facilities which provide an all-round entertainment to many guests and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ghana.
The Bunso Arboretum is a dense forest endowed with many medicinal plants, herbs and wild animals.
The arboretum has within its enclave over 600 species of plants, 105 species of birds, 57 species of snakes, 300 species of butterflies, assorted fruits including; grapes, passion and the star fruit.
It has as part of its heritage, the oldest dutch building outside Europe, built in the 18th century and served as the home for the colonial officials who founded Arboretum.
It has the second commercial canopy walkway in the country after the Kakum canopy walkway and the second commercial zipline in West Africa, a horse ranch, kids playground, a snack bar as some of the attractions which give tourists who visit the facility, a fulfilled expectation.
The Arboretum which simply means ‘the collection of trees in an area’, derives its name from two Latin words namely Arbo and Retum meaning ‘trees’ and ‘collection of’ respectively and was officially opened in 1935 by two British nationals named Frank Thompson and David Gillet, after sometime, the Arboretum was handed over to the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as a research facility until 2019, when government together with other private companies and the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council partnered to open the Arboretum up as a tourist facility.
Mr Asare Frimpong, the Facility Manager, told the GNA that patronage was good as they averagely received about 2000 to 4000 guests monthly depending on peak days or holidays.
He said plans were advanced to renovate the ancient dutch building to provide an accommodation, Spa and a wellness centre to add to the recreational centre.
Touching more on the forest, he said due to the abundance of species of medicinal plants in the forest, the centre also produced raw herbal materials and supplied manufacturers adding that discussions were ongoing as to the establishment of a herbal medicine centre of excellence, leveraging on the natural resources of the facility.
He said Arboretum was inter-linked with the Atewa forest, which is some few kilometres away from Bunso, explaining that some of the perceived world extinct animals were found in both the Arboretum and the Atewa forest mentioning one such as the Antacoss Atlas a type of butterfly which could only be found in the two forest areas.
The facility Manager appealed to government to rescind the decision of mining in the Atewa forest reserve, and such a move would destroy the natural habitat of the many animal and plant species found there as well as destroy the beauty and pride of the arboretum because of their inter-dependence in terms of the natural environment for the animals.
Impact of COVID-19
Just like any other business which had been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Bunso Arboretum, adjudged the best most patronized tourist centre in the country in 2020, is no exception, as patronage dropped drastically due to the restrictions on social gathering and recreational activities as part of measures to contain spread of the deadly disease.
He described the impact on the facility as so bad that sometimes in a whole week they received no visitors due to the pandemic and therefore appealed to the public to reject false theories about the coronavirus vaccines and take the shots so that things would return to normal.