Community Based Ecotourism Project in Ghana

Published: 2021-09-28 00:10:03
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Category: Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, Tax, Community, Tourism, Ecotourism

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Highlights of this region are the massive man-made Volta Lake, the largest in the world and the tallest mountain in West Africa, Mount Afadjato (885m). The Hohoe (ho-we) District is one of the 17 districts of Volta Region in Ghana and was created in 1979 and the major ethnic groups here are Ewes, Akpafu/Lolobi, Santrokofi, Likpe, Logba, Tafi and Nyagbo, with a population of around 144,500, in 2000. The total number of households in the Hohoe stands at 32844, with 7172 living in the urban area whiles the rest of 25672 live in the rural area. (Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Ghana and Maks Publications & Media Services, 2006).
Source: Hebert, 2009. Deme village is the chosen site for the development of this community-based tourism project and is located in Hohoe District. The area is surrounded by tropical forest, home for different amazing species of monkeys, exotic birds, bucks and buffalos. The wonderful diversity of nature is not the main attraction here, the historical heritage and vibrant cultural identity is instead. Every year in November there is the celebration of the Gbidokor Festival of the Gbi-Ewes, where chiefs of the two tribes, the Gbi and the Ewe, wearing traditional colourful costumes are carried in palanquins, surrounded by drumming and dances of the local people.
The population of this village is part of Ewe ethnic group, and the majority of people speak Ewe language, and the majority of the youngsters speaking English as well. (Ghana Tourism Board, 2008). This project seeks to help the people of Deme village to generate income from tourism in order to alleviate the poverty level of their community, to provide basic facilities for living conditions, to educate and encourage the locals to preserve the natural resources and endangered animal species and to promote the unique culture and traditions of the Ewe tribe that most of the locals belong to.

The current tourism provision in Deme village is inexistent, but the tourism statistics of the Hohoe area show that an increasing number of visitors are becoming interested in the natural and cultural beauty of this district. Touristy attractions that are close to Deme, such as Tafi-Atome Monkey Sanctuary and Mole National Park registered a number of approximately 97,129 arrivals in 2007. (Ghana Tourism Board, 2009).  Mid and long term development plans The idea of this community-based ecotourism project is to create a place where tourists can experience real rural African village life by staying in the village itself and taking part in its daily activities and traditions.
Socio-cultural impacts, according Burns and Holden (1995, cited in Mason, 2003), “are greatest when there is a large contrast between the culture of the receiving society and the origin culture”, and these are:

Preserve the traditional cultural activities of the Ewe tribe and the unique lifestyle
Educating the local people (regarding taking pride in teaching their culture and traditions and act as hosts to visitors; the income earned by the locals through tourism is used to send their children to school)
Avoid migration of the local youngsters in order to preserve the unique culture and customs and transmit it from generation to generation (through generating jobs and a higher quality of life)
Overcrowding (causing stress for both visitors and locals)
Demonstration effects (behavioural changes of the local people through observing the behaviour of the tourists and wanting to adopt it).

Environmental impacts include:

Educate the locals to act in consideration with preserving the natural environment and the endangered species of animals
Pollution (air pollution, solid waste, litter, noise)
Damage or/and disturbance of wildlife habitats
Over-fishing (community experiences include fishing with the locals in the Volta Lake)
Footpath erosion

In order to reduce some of the negative impacts listed above, the tourism product needs to be sustainable developed. (Mason, 2003).
Model approach to sustainable tourism product The sustainable development strategy is defined by Brundtland (WCED 1987 p. 49 cited in Hall, 2008) as “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The ecotourism project of Deme has been planned having sustainability and minimizing the possibly negative impacts as the main concern. It is vital for this poor community that tourism activity is planned sustainable.
The development plan was made following the community approach of Murphy (1985, cited in Hall, 2008), who promotes “the use of an ecological approach to tourism planning that emphasised the need for local control over the development process”. So, the local people are at the centre of this small scale tourism project, which directly benefit from it, and the environment will be slightly modified and preserved. There will be a small number of tourists visiting that will be accommodated in 10 basic clay-made huts, an eating place serving traditional food (fish, cassava and mango dishes, using local products). Tourists can come in contact with unique experiences that involve the locals: learning how to weave a basket or a mat out of reed, learning the Ewe tribe dancing moves, go fishing with a local fisherman, and enjoy a meal with a local family.
This approach will ensure that both the tourists and the locals gain a high level of satisfaction, poverty is eradicated and tourism in Deme is sustainable. (Hall, 2008). Strategies to ensure sustainability To ensure sustainability there must be strategies because sustainability in tourism development is really important. Sustainability strategy has to connect with all stakeholders in the tourism planning so the developed tourism can have a future. The sustainable development has to guarantee that the natural, cultural and all other resources of tourism are preserved for stable use in the future, at the same time as bringing benefits to the local community. (Inskeep, 1994).
Stakeholders analysis According to Hall (2008), stakeholders are “individuals, groups or/and organisations with an interest on an issue, problem or outcome that are directly influenced or affected by the actions or non-actions taken by others to resolve the problem or issue”. Stakeholders in Deme are people with an interest and directly involved in the tourism activity of the village.
They are: the local community (fishermen, the boat makers, the eating place owner, the traditional ewe-an crafts vendors, the local tourist guides, the youngsters of the village), Ghana Tourism Board, the local and national government and the travel agent that will market the tourism product and will make the bookings. The local community is the main stakeholder involved in this tourism project, because the tourism product offered is local community experiences, which means that everybody is involved. Directly earning income from this tourism project will be: the locals working on building the facilities for accommodating tourists, the locals taking part in teaching the tourists about the customs and traditions of the Ewe tribe (basket weavers, the dancers), fishermen that will supply the eating place, and will also act as tourist guides, the boat makers.
The youngsters of the village will benefit indirectly through educational programmes that will teach them about sustainable tourism and how to protect the environment and their local traditions and culture. This tourism project will positively affect and change the lives of the locals. Negative impacts might be over-dependence on tourism and tourism activity not constant. This is why the planning process needs to take into consideration these aspects and make sure the influx of tourists is constant. Ghana Tourism Board will benefit through internationally raising awareness on tourism business in Ghana, the local/national government through taxes from the tourists/ taxes from the locals.
This tourism product will be sold to the tourists through an independent niche travel agent who will benefit and make profit from the tourists that will book their holidays with them. (Hall and Richards, 2003). Strategies to ensure cooperation with the local government The regulation of tourist development is determined by policies, which together inform an overall set of planning principles for the area being planned. The determination of these policies is based on several considerations. Thus, the form which tourism planning takes will be influenced by general government policies and private sector policies.  Ghana’s government has a role to play in formulating appropriate policies and strategies for human resource development in tourism.
Support for continental and regional structures are part of this, but it is also necessary to encourage private initiatives and, in particular, Ghanaian entrepreneurs. Properly conceived, government interventions in the tourism sector can play an important catalytic role. It is important, for example, to create institutional mechanisms that bring together governments and private entrepreneurs, thus avoiding damage that may be caused if they work at cross purposes. The problems in Ghana’s tourism are closely related to structural imbalances in its overall development pattern. There are no clear strategies for development in general or for tourism in particular, and tourism has not been integrated with other economic sectors.
The economic crisis and the need to provide more employment compel governments to speed up replacement of expatriate senior staff by nationals.  Human Resource (HR) in tourism development HR development in tourism is aimed at reducing dependence on import personnel and replacing them with workers from local areas. This requires an understanding of the market for labour in the tourism industry, and an awareness of quantitative and qualitative requirements of the industry. Cited in CABI (2001) page: 68, 72 7. 2 Education and Training It is important to emphasize in Ghanaian tourism, cooperation is especially urgent in education and training, as well as in a wide range of skills, including management and information technology.
This should not be confined to the formal education system. While formal training is obviously important, it may often be more beneficial and most cost-effective, in practice, to focus on informal training, either on the job or through programmes carefully tailored to meet defined objectives and targeted at specific types of individuals. Cited in CABI (2001) page: 73 8. Avoiding demonstration effects Demonstration effect is seen as a socio-cultural impact regarding the tourism activity and is referred to as the behavioural changes in the resident population when coming in contact with tourists. The impacts are greater when the culture of the host community and the tourists is very different.
This situation can have negative effects especially on the young host community who becomes resentful because they are unable to obtain the goods and lifestyle demonstrated by the visitors. (Burns and Holden, 1995). The demonstration effect may encourage youngsters to migrate from rural areas in search for the lifestyle from urban areas “demonstrated” by the tourists. (Mason, 2003). Demonstration effects in Deme village will be minimal because this is a small-scale project and the number of tourists visiting the area will be controlled by the travel agent involved in this project. Anyhow, the demonstration effect involves the individual perception of the locals upon the tourists’ behaviour and it is not something that can be measured and totally controlled.
This could be minimal if locals are taught about the important value of their culture and that they should be proud of being part of the unique environment that surrounds them, and also the effects of globalization. Educational programmes should help minimise demonstration effects, together with sustainable development. (Mason, 2003). 9. Conclusion This case study report has analysed the development plan of a community-based ecotourism project in Ghana. The development plan of Deme village has been conducted having the community as the main resource for tourism. The local people are involved in all aspects of tourism activity in order to break the poverty barriers that enable the community to have a decent lifestyle. The local government is involved through educational programmes which will help the local community avoid demonstration effects and preserve the natural and cultural environment of Ewe tribe and Deme village.

Books Hall M (2008), Tourism Planning. Policies, Processes and Relationships 2nd ed. England, Pearson Education
Hall D. and Richards G. (2003) Tourism and sustainable community development, New York, Routledge Ham et al. West Africa Lonely Planet
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Tourism Impacts, Planning and Management, Oxford, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann Nault H. W (1992), The World Book Encyclopaedia, Chicago, World Book Inc. Journals
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