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THE TOURISM INDUSTRY IN GHANA has experienced a dramatic turnaround since 1996, and 2013/14 continued this phenomenal growth. The number of tourism visits from 2006 to 2010 indicated a steady increase, with an average annual growth of 17%. Indeed from nearly half a million international visitors in 2006, the number of people visiting Ghana virtually doubled by 2013.

In 2010, the UN's World Tourism Organisation's annual compilation singled out Ghana along three other Sub-Saharan Africa countries for outperforming the world average tourism growth for the year.

With its total of 931,224 arrivals and receipts of $1.875bn recorded in 2010, Ghana achieved a growth of 16%.

The country receives the largest number of tourists visiting Africa for cultural purposes, and in 2013 was ranked amongst the top 10 African tourist destinations overall.

Ghana is currently served by most major airlines including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Air Namibia, Emirates, Lufthansa, Delta Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Brussels Air, and British Airways.

Tourism is the most promising sector of the national economy, ranking as the fourth highest foreign exchange earner.

It is one of the fastest growing economic sectors, with a huge potential for poverty reduction and wealth creation for the people.

In 2013, the sector contributed a total of $1.7bn to GDP and employed over 400,000 Ghanaians directly and indirectly across the country.

The country has the great advantage of being the best tourism destination in Africa because of its historic slave forts, its cultural diversity, natural environment and political stability.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has projected that by 2021, international tourist arrivals to Ghana will have soared to well over a million visitors each year.

Ghana is keen to promote non-mass tourism, focusing on sustainable tourism. Areas for consideration include:

* Culture tourism--festivals, events, rural tourism

* Heritage tourism, with a focus on the slave route

* Recreational tourism--beaches, water sports, theme parks and golf

* Adventure tourism--rainforest ecotourism, game parks, white-water rafting, cruise lines etc.

* Events tourism with a focus on conferences, summits and meetings.

Ghana has numerous game and wildlife parks including the Mole National Park located in the Northern Region. It offers visitors the unique experience of "foot [trekking] safaris". The Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary is a natural habitat for many species of wildlife, as well as for a number of migratory birds, located 16km west of Kumasi.

Other wildlife reserves are the Shai Hills Game Reserve, Digya National Park, Kogyae District Nature Reserve, Bui National Park, the Ankasa Game Reserve and Nini Suhien National Park.

There are numerous colourful traditional festivals and durbars. One such festival is the Dipo (Puberty rites) of the Krobos. The Aboakyir (Deer hunting celebration) is held by the people of Winneba. Homowo (Harvest/Thanksgiving] is a festival...

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