The Kumasi Zoo has overtaken the Kakum National Park, near Cape Coast, as the most visited tourist site in the country.
According to figures released by the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) for 2008, the Kumasi zoo received 115,348 visitors while Kakum recorded 94,639 visits.
The statistics further indicated that domestic tourism was on the upsurge with visits to the top ten sites increasing from 235,796 in 2007 to 301,049 in 2008.
The reasons for the increase in the visitation were mainly attributed to the renovation of the zoo following the relocation of animals from the Accra Zoo to the Kumasi Zoo.
The personal involvement of the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, on various platforms to promote tourism in the Ashanti Region was also cited as a major factor in this direction.
In this vein, the Public Relations Manager of the Ghana Tourist Board, Ben Ohene-Ayeh, in an interview with the Times in Accra on Thursday, has urged traditional rulers and District Assemblies to get on board with the crusade to promote domestic tourism in their localities to achieve socio-economic benefits.
He noted that most tourism sites in the country were rural based and as such the involvement of Chiefs at the local level would go along way to accelerate growth in the sector, through job creation.
“We would be establishing district tourism offices when the new Tourism Bill is passed but in the mean time our personnel at the GTB regional offices are ready to provide technical expertise to make the goals and objectives of the traditional rulers attainable,” he said.
The PRO thus called on District Assemblies to liase with the chiefs to promote tourism in their areas, adding that the GTB was willing to assist in the improvement of “facilitates at the various tourist sites such as restaurants and other amenities.
“When this is done, the issue of unemployment and rural/urban drift that has engulfed our nation will be curbed, and the national wealth fairly re-distributed for all to benefit,” he said.
Mr. Ayeh said that the GTBs awareness campaign for this year would increase the tourism revenue beyond the $1 billion generated last year.
“We would engage stakeholders, that is, travel and tour operators, transport owners and others to reduce operational rates to enable more people to visit more tourist sites this year,” he said.
He also advocated the formation of tourist clubs in schools and work places at local and regional levels for more people to see the need to visit places of interest to be informed about the historic monuments of the country.
“The GTB will continue to promote the uniqueness of the country to uphold the positive image of the nation so all must get on board” the PRO said.
According to the statistics the ten most widely visited tourist sites in the country for last year were Kumasi Zoo, Kakum National Park, Elmina and Cape Coast castles, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, Manhyia Palace Museum, Aburi Botanical Gardens, Wli Waterfalls, Mole National Park, and the Kintampo Waterfalls in that order.