I received a WhatsApp chat the other day which read, “Long ago when Easter was approaching, we would be wanting to watch Passion of Christ. We’d even cry sometimes when watching until satan introduced “Kwahu oo, Kwahu.”
I burst out laughing on reading this and shared it with family and friends to create some giggle. On reflection however, this WhatsApp “joke” sent me thinking. Whether Satan’s introduction or not, there is clearly a tourism potential in “Kwahu oo Kwahu” that we seem not to be exploiting to the fullest.
Just last week, I was chatting to a friend about Easter get-away. He told me he and his family were heading for Kwahu on Friday, soon after Church. According to him, there is an undeveloped tourist site somewhere in the Kwahu Range which he and his family were planning to experience over the Easter weekend.
Apparently, there are some beautiful sceneries near Mpraeso with valleys and evergreen virgin forests laced with hill tops, flat land and unusual rock formations. The friend’s description reminded me of similar tourist sceneries in Cape Town, South Africa and which the country has made tourism capital of with cable cars taking tourists up for a better bird’s eye view. In our case, what the friend even made sounding mouth-watering is the fact that on the other side of the valleys and flat land is a game park which one can cross over to by canoe.
The Kwahu factor
The Kwahu factor at Easter time is one potential in our tourism industry that we are failing to apply a holistic and concerted approach to in order to realise bigger gains.
Going to Kwahu in the Eastern Region of Ghana these days is fast becoming a yearning for, this time of the year. Somehow therefore, our Easter break has now become synonymous with going to Kwahu. But how is our tourism industry capitalising on the hype and making sure that Easter at the Eastern Mountains become a big domestic tourism destination which when well structured, can create employment avenues for locals, a deserving break for busy workers, and a-must-see for tourism lovers?
Over the years, I have followed the news and seen how hundreds of holiday makers troop to the Kwahu area at Easter. Disappointingly, the story is always the same each year. It looks like we are only doing business as usual and scratching the surface of the true opportunities that Kwahu presents in our tourism equation.
With the media hype, one cannot ignore but feel eager to see and feel Easter celebrated at Kwahu. Admittedly, it is not in our nature to exploit local tourism but it is beginning to look like Easter in Kwahu is becoming an exception. Elsewhere, the tourism authorities would have capitalised on the opportunity so created and would have by now built on it making Kwahu a huge tourism attraction.
Putting strategic plans behind Easter at Kwahu as a major tourism attraction will mean good road networks especially between Nkawkaw and all the major towns in Kwahu. Good road networks would even promote day return visits thus attracting many more visitors. Then also is the case of internet availability and mobile phone accessibility for the period tourists are up there.
Pushing for the Kwahu factor as a focus in promoting tourism also means good hotels, decent eateries dotted along the major stops and abundant places of convenience. The Kwahus have some local specialities. This would be the time to promote food tourism as well as all the cottage industries that already exist and the many more that could be tapped. What a clever idea Easter in Kwahu will present to the one district one factory strategy of the current government.
And once we have holiday makers and tourists trooping to the Eastern Mountains, it also means varieties of entertainment spots with plenty of outdoor activities to cater for both the young and the old.
Sunday Church Service
Traditionally, the climax of Easter is Sunday, the day of our Lord’s Resurrection. The tourism feel at Kwahu should present the opportunity for Christians who make it there for their holiday to add the spiritual dimension as well by attending a purposefully arranged open Church service. This can be a good idea for the Presbyterian Church of Ghana to organise in one of the big towns in Kwahu. The Presbyterian Church because after all, in the history of the Church in Ghana, the Presbyterian Mission was big in Kwahu and it would be a chance to showcase that history, thus adding an innovation to the whole feel of Kwahu Easter.
I believe we are looking for new ways to beef up our tourism opportunities since it is an important indicator for economic growth. The other day on GTV business news, we were told that in 2012, the country realised GHC2 billion in tourism and the figure is expected to rise to GHC5 billion in five years (2017, presumably).
Tourism, once the third highest earner in foreign exchange for the country, has dropped to the fourth position. Ideas like the Kwahu factor at Easter therefore are some of the little drops that should be exploited big. Through that, we can gradually build on and extend tourism interest in the area to be an all-year-round affair.
Small ideas, they say, yield big dividend over time. There is everything to show that we can develop Easter in Kwahu to be a popular tourism attraction in this country. What we are doing now would be seen as piecemeal in countries such as Kenya, Malaysia and South Africa where deliberate emphasis is put on tourism attractions, no matter how small in nature.
It is time to dream big around “Kwahu oo Kwahu”. It is time to focus on both private and public partnerships and make Kwahu a tourism centre for tourists to look out for each year. Kwahu has some of the greatest entrepreneurs in our country and so the ideas and the drive should not be lacking.
The Kwahu factor at Easter needs serious thinking through as a potential big time tourism opportunity. Whatever exists now need some strategic direction to properly institutionalise Easter break as a must-experience event in Kwahu oo Kwahu.