Making Accra work again through Green Tourism initiatives

Making Accra work again through Green Tourism initiatives

Some few weeks ago, I attended an event at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), dubbed: ‘Greater Accra Investment Opportunities Conference’. This was a collaborative programme between the AGI President and the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Henry Quartey. It was under the theme: ‘The New Face of Greater Accra: Collaborative Cities and Private Sector to Achieve Accelerated Development. Great things have happened and are still happening in Greater Accra. No wonder the Regional Minister keeps getting all the praises for his great leadership. At the end of the conference, we were taken to the site that once hosted Ghana’s most toxic site.

How many people would have believed some few years back, that today, that land would be reclaimed? Yes, the Regional Minister indeed told us the site has been reclaimed, and we all saw it with our naked eyes and not only has the site been reclaimed, all squatters have been removed as well.  There are big plans to redevelop the site, and already there is great news of some private investors ready to support the project.

We are all startled how Dubai evolved into what it is today and it is the preferred destinations for many tourists today. Greater Accra can also achieve this feat; and thankfully, we have the right leadership to lead this dream. There is a proposed re-development for the land. A PowerPoint presentation of the plan was displayed and all Ghanaians can be assured that this project will change the face of Accra.

This will also improve tourism in Accra, and we must all support and hope for the best. One suggestion I would like to offer is to consider making the Korle Lagoon a centre where tourists can relax and enjoy some boat rides. This will generate employment and income for the local economy. All great cities have incorporated this into their planning, and Accra must not be left out. Calgary, situated in Canada, is one of the cleanest cities in the world. Residents of Calgary, play a very important role in maintaining their city’s cleanliness.

Even though most parts of this city is solely based on production, higher authorities have beautifully organised the entire city to be environmental friendly. A first-time tourist who happens to walk through the roads of Calgary will know why this city is among the cleanest. Here is how this city has achieved 100% cleanliness despite having the high amount of material wastage and pollution. Calgary is the centre of the oil and gas industry for the whole nation of Canada. The city of Calgary has actively promoted a lot of sanitation and eco-friendly programmes over the years.

This is how they have achieved the sparking aqua rivers and clean environment. In 2007, Alberta state government initiated the programme called ‘Too Good to Waste’, with an aim of decreasing the amount of waste that is passed on to the landfills, and it is ongoing. This programme also promotes increasing number of ways to recycle the materials which are expelled from Calgary’s housing boom which includes drywall, concrete, asphalt and grits.

By the year 2020, they intended to hive off 80% of the city’s waste from landfills.  Another recycling programme that helps in making the city clean is known as ‘Blue Cart System’. The city administration provides a large blue cart recyclable material to each and every single interested family, with an expectation of throwing every recyclable material to a blue bin.

They include metal foil and food cans, paper and card board, bottles, jugs and plastic food containers, glass jars and bottles. Every resident has to put this blue bin with the recyclable materials on their scheduled collection day. Finally, the collected recycle materials will be processed at the city’s own plants. This programme is just one part of the commitment Calgary follows on a regular basis to keep their city as clean as possible. There are two rivers which run through the city which draw boat rides.

A focus on green tourism in this and other projects will be of immense benefits. Green Tourism is a term that can be applied to any form of tourism that relates to natural environment and cultural heritage of an area, or that undertakes good environmental management (or green) practice.

It is sustainable tourism which takes into account the needs of the environment, local residents, businesses, and visitors now and in the future. Green tourism has the potential to create new, green jobs. It is estimated that one job in the core tourism industry creates about one and a half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism related economy.

The greening of tourism, which involves efficiency improvements in energy, and water and waste systems, is expected to reinforce the employment potential of the sector with increased local hiring, sourcing and significant opportunities in tourism – oriented toward local culture and the natural environment. I hope the new plan will seriously consider greening every part of the capital city.

Green tourism supports local communities. Particularly, responsible tourism generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry. Secondly, sustainable tourism has a lower ecological impact. Part of green tourism is eating local produce and food from local businesses. On the other, importing food comes at a huge cost – economically and environmentally.

By eating locally, you do not only save money, you will be free from chronic diseases because the food is better. In particular, the ingredients are fresher since the locals know how to prepare them, and you will probably get to taste something brand new that will intrigue you. Thirdly, green tourism provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local culture, social and environmental issues.

It is a way to open our minds to the world, and the realisation that we are all different but we are also the same. Doing it responsibly gives us an opportunity to learn through meaningful connections with local people.

Making Accra work again will be of great benefit to us all. All loving residents of Accra must be part of this process. Together we stand, divided we fall.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer/Trainer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd., a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions.

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