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General News of Friday, 3 May 2002

Source: Graphic Showbiz

ECO-FEST 2002 launched in Accra

This year’s Eco-Fest has been launched with a call on Ghanaians to conserve the environment for posterity. Nana Akomea, Deputy Minister of Tourism, who launched the programme said the degradation of the forests has serious implications on the environment, therefore everyone must join the crusade to put an end to it.

Eco-fest will be held from 14 to 21 October. It will be marked with photo exhibitions, field trips and a durbar of chiefs and queen mothers. The Minister said his ministry is to construct receptive facilities at 13 selected Eco-tourist destinations at the cost of ?3 billion. He said the project, which is to take off shortly will enable the ministry through the district assemblies provide facilities such as, restaurants, information centres and a conducive environment for tourist destinations.

Nana Akomea said it has become necessary for the ministry to create facilities at such tourist destinations so as to make them very convenient and interesting places where people can visit all the time. He said each of the selected sites would be given ?100 million to construct the facilities. "At the moment, the Oda Big will take the lead in the project while other selected sites include destinations in Nzulenzu, Pusiga, among others.”

Nana Akomea said Eco-tourism is an essential way through which government can benefit economically from the preservation of trees and animals. He said Eco-tourism is being promoted worldwide and Ghana is fortunate to have a lot of sites that can be enhanced to attract tourists into the country. He gave the assurance that the ministry is taking steps to salvage the environment.

Mr Joseph Nyarko, Chairman of the Eco-fest Foundation, said the rationale behind Eco-fest is to promote nature, tourism and the conservation of natural resources. He said not only does tourism earn foreign exchange for the country but it also helps in the creation of jobs thus reducing poverty. He said it is in recognition of the potential of Eco-tourism in reducing rural poverty, that the UN has declared this year as " UN Eco-tourism year.

Nana Fredua Agyeman Okotomin, Chief of Staff of the Okyenhene, Amoatia Ofori-Panin who chaired the function called for a collective collaboration among all stakeholders to help preserve the environment. He said the Okyenhene is very concerned with issues of the environment and, therefore, has a vision of protecting trees and wild life for posterity. He expressed the hope that more people will come on board to fight against deforestation and the degradation of the environment.

Nana Baah Wiredu, a tourism consultant said water bodies are drying up due to bad environmental practices. He said government must put in place mechanisms that will help people take control of the environment.