The outbreak of the coronavirus has plunged the entire tourism industry into a state of doldrums, and the drastic decline in tourists’ visit to the Kintampo waterfalls at Kintampo in the Bono East Region depicts the narrative in the ecotourism subsector.
Since the COVID-19 was reported in the country in March, tourists visit to one of the most patronised tourism destinations-Kintampo Waterfalls has taken a nosedive. Statistics indicate that between March 8th and 15th, the total number of arrivals at the waterfalls was 607 as compared 152 tourists between March 16 and March 22. This shows a significant reduction in visitation by about 75 percent.
The COVID-19 challenge resulted in travel restrictions into the country and an eventual closure of the country’s borders and airspace over the weekend to contain the deadly outbreak. As per the breakdown, this reflected on the number of foreigners who visited the Kintampo waterfalls. Foreign tourists’ numbers, a major source of revenue went down from 34 to 14 within said periods respectively. It is expected to reduce further in the coming weeks. The situation poses a huge threat to revenue for the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Kintampo Municipal Assembly as well.
The Site Manager at the Kintampo Waterfalls, Bismark Baiden, in an exclusive interview with B&FT said notwithstanding the rising number of cases in the country and public anxiety “closure of the facility is not an immediate option. The site is not a flashpoint, however, we have instituted the necessary precaution measures to guarantee visitors safety. This in line with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s directives.”
“There’s an Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee to spearhead COVID-19 safety arrangements at the waterfalls. The Committee is made up of personnel from Kintampo Municipal Health Directorate, NADMO, Ghana National Fire Service, Police, BNI and Metrological Department. It has outlined measures such as placement of three Veronica buckets at vantage points at the waterfalls for hand washing.
“Security personnel have been stationed at the main entrance to provide tourists with hand sanitizers. Health Safety Officer at the Infirmary has also been trained on coronavirus preventive measures. He’s mandated to communicate to the Municipal Health Directorate of tourists showing signs or symptoms of the virus for immediate response. Tour guards have been educated on how to sensitise tourists about the pandemic,” he said.
The Site Manager revealed that all proposed social gatherings like music concerts have been postponed until further notice, indicating that many of such events were planned to take place at the waterfalls during the Easter festive season.
In terms of tourists’ visit, the Kintampo Waterfalls in recent times has been one of the leading ecotourism sites in the country. Tourists’ traffic there was boosted by the rehabilitation of the facility, following a rainstorm disaster in 2017 which claimed 18 lives. Among others, there has been a construction of 80 by 90 metre two-line suspended canopy walk on the waterfalls.
In January 2020, a total of 2,315 tourists patronised the site, reducing to 1,372 in February. There were 203 foreigners in January as against 145 in the following month. A total of 852 adults were recorded, 1,185 students and 75 children in January, while 505 adults, 644 students and 87 children also visited the site late month.