By Alice Tettey, GNA
Abrafo-Odumase (C/R), Oct.30, GNA - Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts has applauded the Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust (GHCT), managers of the Canopy Walkway at the Kakum National Park, for its “enviable safety record”.
She noted that two-decades of existence of the eco-tourism facility, located at Abrafo-Odumase in the Hemang Lower Denkyira District of the Central Region, without any incident was highly commendable and described the Trust as a ‘pacesetter’ in safety management.
The Trust, a non- governmental organisation, manages the National Park and is responsible for the daily maintenance of the canopy walk way. It also manages some monuments including the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, Fort Saint Jago at Elmina which are recognized world tourists sites.
Mrs Afeku made the recommendation in a speech read on her behalf at a colourful durbar to inaugurate a children’s park and an Animal Viewing Zone at Abrafo.
Organized by the GHCT, the new sites aim at giving tourists interesting varieties of new packages to sustain their interests.
The occasion was also used to solicit technical and financial support for an Exhibition Centre Restoration project.
The children’s park which has a large playground, a mini walk-way, two sculptured antelopes, and a resting area, would also host other social activities, while the Animal Viewing Zone would offer visitors the opportunity to see and feel different wildlife species in their natural habitat.
Mrs Afeku noted that the Tourism Sector contributed about 7.1 percent to the Gross Domestic Product and an estimated six billion cedis to the Nation’s economy, and therefore, more enabling environment would be created to encourage private sector participation to boost activities in the sector to rake in more revenue.
“The development of tourism and the expansion of tourist facilities is one way of creating employment opportunities for our unemployed youth and a major source of revenue generation for the rapid development of the economy,” she indicated.
She said the pace of rehabilitation works which had resumed on the deplorable road networks of the area would be fast tracked to attract more visitors to the Park.
Dr. Kojo Yankah, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, GHCT, recounted how the Trust took over the management of the facility amidst glowing tributes to the Central Region Development Commission (CEDECOM) and its founding fathers and announced that 30 youth from the area would soon receive training to work at a bamboo village to be set up soon.
He said as part of the project, more bamboo farms would be cultivated to feed the factory, which would add about 200 new bamboo products to create jobs and also boost revenue generation in the area and called on the youth to avail themselves for the training.
Ms. Maisie Howell, Acting Executive Director of the GHCT, said the Trust’s mandate since its inception was to promote the conservation and preservation of historic attractions in the country, adding that it would not compromise on safety with strong maintenance culture it had adopted over the past two decades.
She said the Trust marked its 20th anniversary since it took over the management of the Park this year.
She thanked the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, Museums and Monuments Board, and the surrounding communities for their invaluable support in diverse ways.
Nana Akomea Ntrakwah III, Akyeamehene of the Denkyira State, said the facility had been well maintained.
He appealed to the authorities to build a clinic and provide potable water in the town.
He called for scholarship schemes to be awarded to students from the area to help them pursue higher education and reduce poverty.
The Kakum National Park one of the major tourist attractions in the country, which was gazetted in 1992 and opened to tourists in 1994, lies in the Atandansu Rainforest Reserve.
It is home to a variety of fauna and fora including the endangered Diana Monkey, elephants, antelopes, deer, butterflies, bees, birds, tree species like Odum, Mahogany and many others with medicinal and nutritional values.