Ghana’s tourism sector is expected to grow at an average rate of 4.1% per annum over the next two decades, driven largely by the country’s unique historical, cultural and natural attractions.
Centrally located on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, Ghana has a total land area of about 238,540 km2 and a 540 km picturesque coastline.
The Ministry of Tourism is responsible for the development of the industry through its implementing agency, the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB). The GTB plays the role of a national tourism authority. The Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) brings together the various private associations in the industry, providing the basis for a public-private partnership.
Currently, the most frequently visited destinations in Ghana are Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, and the Mole National Park. Under the Ministry’s guidelines, Ghana is promoting the growth of “quality” tourism in these and other areas, given the significant potential to expand the range of destinations and variety of attractions throughout the country.
Historic and cultural sites: Over 26 castles, forts, and ruins built between the 14th and 18th centuries by the major European powers still remain in Ghana. UNESCO lists these as notable World Heritage Sites. Indeed, Ghana has the advantage of being the only country in the world where six World Heritage Sites occur within a 7 km radius in the Cape Coast. Of particular significance are the Elmina and Cape Coast Castles, which were major holding centres and exit points for Africans bound for the Americas during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Other cultural attractions include traditional buildings, historic urban districts, archaeological sites, and ancient and modern monuments.
Beach and lakefront areas: Ghana has sandy and picturesque beaches in the Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions. Major beach destinations include Gomoa Fetteh, Winneba, Brenu, Elmina, Busua and Miamia, where the surf can range from gentle rollers to sizeable breakers. In addition to these oceanfront locations, the Lake Volta estuary is an area of great scenic beauty with its open beaches and picnic spots shaded by palm trees. The sand bars are nesting grounds for sea birds and endangered species of turtle. Many spots on the Lake area are becoming popular fishing, boating and water sports locations. Ghana also has scenic waterfalls in attractive rural and forest settings. The Densu, Pra, Ankobra and Tano rivers, which traverse the forest belt and empty into the Atlantic, also provide avenues for cruises, canoeing and rafting excursions.
Ecotourism: Ghana’s popular natural heritage sites include the newly developed Kakum National Park, which boasts of the only canopy walkway in all of Africa. There is also a Hippo Sanctuary in Wechiau, the Mole National Park, and the Cape Three Points Forest Reserve, which is the nearest landmass to the centre of the earth. Coastal lagoons, exotic wetlands, crocodile ponds, wildlife parks, and scenic mountain trails are also among the list of Ghana’s natural heritage sites.
Other: Other attractions include gold mines in Ashanti, hydroelectric dams on the Volta, cocoa plantations, and events such as the Pan African Historical Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) and Emancipation Day celebrations. Ghana also attracts a significant number of business travellers, and is host to various exhibitions such as the ECOWAS trade fair, INDUTECH (Ghana Industry and Technology Exhibition), GIFEX (Ghana Industry & Furniture Exhibition), as well as annual conferences of the mining, energy and ICT industries. Furthermore, Ghana is a host to major sporting events.
Indicators showing the growth of the tourism sector underscore the need for accommodation and other facilities to service the growing number of visitors to Ghana. The National Tourism Development Plan also calls for investments in hotel accommodations and visitor facilities in eight designated tourism centres, seven tourist gateways, 75 tourist stopovers and a network of excursion routes, all focusing on and linking the major attractions throughout the country. Specific opportunities include:
- Development of mid- and upper-scale hotels in Accra and nine regional capitals
- Accommodation for the Accra International Conference Centre
- Lake resorts on Dodi Island on the Volta system and the Bosumtwi
- Marinas at Sogakope and Ada on the lower Volta system and Keta Lagoon
- Beach resorts at the Marine Drive, Prampram – New Ningo (Greater Accra), Gomoa-Feteh, Winneba and Brenu- Akyinim (Central Region), Busua, Cape Three Points and Miamia (Western Region)
- Mountain retreats at Amedzofe (Volta Region) and Kloyo (Eastern Region)
- Visitor facilities within Mole and Kakum National Parks, Wli waterfalls, and selected sites in Tagbo (Volta Region), Kintampo (Brong Ahafo Region), and Paga (Upper East)
Ghana enjoys a liberal investment environment and a stable, democratic political system. Investment benefits include 100% foreign ownership of local companies and joint-venture operations. The minimum required equity for foreign investment in a joint-venture is US$10,000. The amount for enterprises wholly-owned by non-Ghanaians is US$ 50,000. Other benefits include:
- Incentives with regards to import duties, customs, guarantees of transfer of profits and dividends
- A five-year tax holiday
- Availability of banking and non-banking institutions, e.g. Exim-Guaranty Co. Ltd., Venture Fund Management Company, and Ghana Leasing Company
- Protection under the Ghana Investment Promotion Act, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agreement, and other bilateral and multilateral agreements
All tourism developments are required to comply with the environmental impact assessment requirements, as stipulated in the Environmental Protection Agency Act 490. Other laws governing the tourism industry include the Accommodation and Catering Enterprises Regulations (1979), and Tour Operators Registration & Licensing Regulations (1983). These laws establish industry standards and requirements for operating a tourism business.
Investors interested in any of the above opportunities should contact the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre at: