THE Ahafo Ano North District Assembly in the Ashanti Region has taken realistic measures to develop its tourism potential.
The district is targeting initial arrivals of at least 20,000 tourists annually, when it puts in place the necessary infrastructure and other facilities.
The District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr Eric Nana Agyemang Prempeh, made this known in an interview at Tepa.
“The revenue from this arrivals would be enormous that is why in spite of my relatively short period in office, I am going all out to get the Assembly to initiate programmes that will get things moving at the right pace,” he stressed.
Indeed, the assembly considers tourism as a major source of its revenue, and for that matter, it is putting the necessary mechanisms in place to take advantage of the opportunities in the sector.
Five months in office as the new DCE for the area, Nana Agyemang Prempeh is moving heaven and earth to get the district assembly benefit fully from the rich tourism potential of the district.
According to him, the assembly is in close contact with the Ghana Tourist Board in Kumasi to find ways of scaling up the task before it in order to reach the expected destination.
Time and again district assemblies have been advised not to rely on the government alone for financial support for development.
The assemblies have been asked to look for ways of generating resources internally to complement government support but most of the assemblies have not been up to the task.
“With tourism becoming one of the major sources of revenue of the country resulting from prudent policies from the government, districts with rich potentials can only strive to take advantage of the situation to improve their finances to support development. “I believe this is an area where every effort should be made to get things going,” the DCE said.
Among the potential sites earmarked for development are the Catholic Grotto at Manfo, the confluence of three rivers, namely Kwasu, Abu and Tano at Asuhyiae, and the Barnie Shrine at Tepa.
According to Nana Agyemang Prempeh, the tourism subcommittee of the assembly would be empowered to initiate programmes that would quicken the pace of the initiatives.
He said on realisation that every year, at least 10,000 people visited the Catholic Grotto, the assembly could do something to get the needed revenue from the arrivals.
Consequently, Nana Agyemang Prempeh said, the assembly was discussing with the Catholic Diocese of Goaso, which runs the Grotto, for a joint venture that would see massive transformation of the Grotto to promote tourism.
If negotiations materialise, the assembly would pump some resources to develop some of the infrastructure at the area.
For the confluence of the three rivers at Asuhyiae, Nana Agyemang Prempeh said, the scenery could become one of the best attractions in the country when the assembly completes infrastructure development there.
He said access roads to the area would also be tackled to facilitate easy movement of tourists.
One significant feature is that the confluence is near the Grotto, and that would ensure increased patronage.
With regard to the Barnie shrine, the DCE said, the assembly would rely on the history behind it to achieve patronage.
The Barnie shrine, which serves as the spiritual backbone of the Tepa paramount stool, occupies a very important role in Ashanti history.
In Ashanti, it is only the Tepahene and the Agonahene who use white umbrellas in the Manhyia Palace.
History has it that because of the powers of Okomfo Anokye, who was installed Agonahene, the Asantehene decreed that he used white umbrella at the King’s palace.
After the death of Okomfo Anokye, the Barnie priest took over as the most powerful priest in Ashanti and consequently, the Tepahene was also asked to use white umbrella at the Manhyia Palace.
The DCE believes that with the history, the shrine could be developed to make it an attraction.
The plan, is indeed a laudable one and it rests on the assembly to move with all seriousness to take advantage of the opportunities.