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29.10.2005 Travel & Tourism

Deteriorating Environment & Tourism Promotion

By Nyarko, Stephen
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Promoting tourism has been identified by the government as a key plank of its drive to accelerate economic development. However given the astronomical scale of environmental degradation currently taking place in Accra and Kumasi, one wonders whether we can ever come close to achieving this dream.
I have been trying in my little small way to encourage foreign friends of mine to visit Ghana, because it is a wonderful country with lots of hospitality. Some of them have taken the challenge but almost invariably one issue they always get disappointed about, which prevents them from coming back again to spend their hard earn dollars is the DIRTINESS of the place and the lack of decent public places of convenience, and even if there are they are not properly maintained . It is not only me who has realised but my acquaintances have also noticed that not only in urban areas but increasingly in all towns and cities, there are now a gross disregard for the environment in which people live. Everywhere you look, in Accra especially, is strewn with rubbish, household waste and increasingly frequently gutters are choked with rubbish and human excrement, creating very foul smells and exposing everybody to harmful and infectious organisms on a daily basis. The food we eat, the water we drink have become severely contaminated and heavily infected and the very foul and severely polluted air we breath is continuously causing the needless death in large numbers of our fellow citizens, but politicians and the so call media people, who manage the newspapers and radio stations have remained blind to these issues and have not been giving this issue the much needed attention it deserves.
It is no secret that the elected and appointed politicians and local officials have a huge role to play in achieving the vision of a sustainable environment for the benefit of all our citizens. However a lot of the officials tasked with this responsibility are not only lazy but grossly incompetent. They cannot even organise a drink up at a drinking spot. When you point things out to them because they do not want their incompetence exposed under the search light they call you unpatriotic. The Mayors, Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives who should have seen their lack of solutions to rectify this simple but catastrophic situation as a RESIGNATION MATTER, have retreated into an iniquitous BUBBLE of unconcern whilst, harmful but preventable diseases like cholera are queuing up to fill the void that they have left.
While these comments are anecdotal rather than research based, the catastrophic environmental degradation taking place in Ghana today should be off concern to everyone because it is undermining our drive for accelerated economic development, preventing us from sufficiently attracting the much needed tourists dollar to Ghana like Gambia has done, and this makes me feel this issue should remained a hot potato in our daily debates if the problem is ever to be solved..
We all know that tourism is a great money earner for any country that manages to develop the sector successfully but we are forgetting that most tourists who have money to spend, come from the developed world, where cleanliness and tidiness is paramount in their holiday decisions. In trying to attract tourists to our country we keep marketing ourselves in our tourism brochures as a hospitable place to visit, trading on the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality and underestimating, the importance of clean environments, efficient refuse collection, street cleansing and the maintenance of public spaces. Therefore the powers that be keep ignoring the importance of ensuring that adequate policies are put into place to ensure the delivery of a high quality environment that can attract discerning tourists in their millions to create employment opportunities for the people as well as serve the aspirations and needs of local people.
The current situation is unacceptable and not fair for future generations. Accra is too dirty, Kumasi is very very dirty. For the sake of today's children and for the sake of boosting our tourism industry we need to start planning now. What strategy is being put into place to ensure that apart from the Ghanaian being known as hospitable we acquire a proud badge of being clean, environmentally aware and tidy people. The lack of awareness amongst the population of their role in this simple task of getting an area clean and keeping it that way, should be laid squarely at the feet of our ministers and our members of parliament. I for one cannot understand how they can be PROUD riding in the expensive 4x 4's and $40,000 Cars in such filthy environments. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.


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