…targets 3,000 annual visitors
The Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture (MoTAC) and the Ghana Tourism Development Company (GTDC) are targetting 3,000 annual visitors to the redeveloped and upgraded ‘Big Tree’ tourist site and its receptive facility at Aprokumasi Akyem-Manso, in the Asene Manso Akroso district of the Eastern Region.
The redevelopment project involved two major activities – including a completed renovation of the site’s receptive facility and upgrade of the entrance and hiking trail in the Essen Epam Forest Reserve, where the Big Tree is located.
The general renovation of the receptive facility involved a complete re-roofing, reconstruction of lavatory facilities, a visitor information area, cafeteria and offices, arts and craft shop, and a social events ground.
The project, which has begun operation with four staff, is expected to impact the local economy through the patronage of local products and, most especially, the provision of direct and indirect jobs.
GTDC said the site’s receptive facility, until the renovation, was abandoned since 2009 due to some operational challenges.
Chief Executive Officer of GTDC, Kwadwo Odame Antwi – who was speaking at the inauguration of upgraded facilities at site, said the project was fully financed by the company through its internally generated revenues.
“We have consulted and worked with all relevant stakeholders – such as the Akyem Manso Traditional Council, Asene Akroso District Assembly, Ghana Tourism Authority, Forestry Commission and opinion leaders – in the renovation and reopening of these facilities,” Mr. Odame Antwi said.
Tourism Minister Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal noted that the site has been developed in keeping with government’s vision of redeveloping and upgrading tourist sites and attractions to improve patronage and visitor experience at the country’s major attractions.
He said other attractions in the country are being redeveloped and enhanced nationwide under the World Bank-funded Ghana Tourism Development Project. “Per our projections, the ministry and its various agencies will collaborate to ensure that we attract at least 3,000 visitors – mainly from Accra – to see the Big Tree each year,” Dr Awal said.
The Big Tree tourist site was not designated a tourist site until 2004, when the then Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, officially listed the tree as an attraction and lobbied the state to build a receptive facility for the site. However, the facilities have been abandoned and left to rot since 2009. The Big Tree is 66.14 metres and is alleged to be more than 400-years old and the biggest tree in West Africa.