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The must-see country of Africa

Article - February 18, 2014
It seems the international media agrees on one thing regarding Ghana: it is, without a doubt, among the undisputed great tourist destinations in the world
THE 15TH CENTURY ELMINA CASTLE WAS THE FIRST EUROPEAN SLAVE-TRADING POST IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Last year, the New York Times listed Accra as one of the top cities in the world for business and pleasure. In 2012, Frommer’s listed Ghana in its Top Destinations 2012, calling it the “perfect introduction to African travel” and recommending its “microcosmic travel circuit” to “anybody seeking a holistic experience that embraces traditional and contemporary cultures as well as beaches and safaris.” One year earlier, Forbes named Ghana the world’s 11th friendliest country on Earth.
 
As if that weren’t enough, the Californian non-profit advocacy group Ethical Traveller crowned Ghana as one of the world’s top 10 ethical destinations for 2013.
 
“Ghana was praised for its pioneering ecotourism, as well as efforts to enforce taxes on things that have a negative environmental impact, such as single-use plastic packaging, trekking and bird watching in the country’s national parks, etc.,” says Ghanaian Tourism Minister Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare. 
 
Sitting at the centre of the world – in the crosshair of the Greenwich Meridian and the Equator lines – Ghana is just a six-hour flight away from London. Its proximity, famed beauty, friendly people and evolving tourism infrastructure has made it an increasingly popular tourist destination over the past decade. And rather than polluting the landscape or overcrowding the country’s sites, the rising numbers have helped to strengthen a sector that contributes enormously to economic growth by creating thousands of new jobs. Furthermore, as more Ghanaians see how tourism can help and reap the benefits, they feel more encouraged to take pride in their nation.
 
According to Ms Ofosu Agyare, tourist arrivals jumped from 821,200 in 2011 to 903,300 the following year, with corresponding receipts from $1.55 trillion to $1.7 trillion. Where Ghanaians can truly see the benefits is in job creation: direct and indirect jobs soared to 359,000 in 2012 from 243,000 in 2011.

“The sector’s contribution to national revenue generation, employment creation and tourism infrastructure development, as well as preserving the environment is phenomenal,” she says.
 
What is it exactly that makes Ghana so desirable? The Minister lists its natural parks and forest reserves, white sandy beaches, beautiful lakes and rivers, waterfalls, zoos, forts, castles and old mines as just a handful of the country’s attractions. “We also have intangible offerings, like the warm reception that Ghana is renowned for,” she adds. 
 
The Labadi Beach Hotel, located in Greater Accra on one of the country’s most popular beaches, lovingly embodies Ghana’s blend of beauty, nature, tradition and modernity. Renowned for its hospitality, cuisine and attention to detail, Labadi Beach Hotel certainly does offer a warm reception to guests, who can enjoy not only modern amenities, but a certain exclusive serenity in the hotel’s lush landscaped gardens and access to a private beach.
 
There is no doubt that Ghana has worked hard to get its tourism sector to where it is today, and the government shows no signs of slowing down. Ms Ofosu Agyare says her ministry seeks to develop “a vibrant and competitive tourism industry through public-private sector interventions and through implementing the new 15 year National Tourism Development Plan, 2013-2027.”

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