Ghana is an exciting place that offers many different and wonderful experiences. The absence of a well-established tourism industry means that this country with its bustling cities, unique cultures and fascinating people retains its own very distinct flavour. Festivals and cultural celebrations are as different in what they celebrate as the number of different languages spoken in the country – more than 100. Ghana also has an infamous legacy in the trade of stolen people manifest in the many well-preserved slaving forts dotted along its sandy coastline. The African Diaspora is drawn towards Ghana, including many African Americans. A strong cultural etiquette exists that is worth checking out before arrival. Music is all pervasive and High Life music and Hip-Life, Ghana youths’ original blend of indigenous music and US-style Hip Hop, originated in Ghana.

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The country has fantastic Atlantic beaches, rainforest, savannah and the dry, dusty deserts of the north, making it a utopia for lovers of nature – a bird-watchers’ paradise. Kakum, Mole and Ankasa national parks are just a few of the places set up to preserve wildlife. If there is one memorable point that defines Ghana, it is the use of folk sayings most notably seen on the ubiquitous tro-tros – the minibuses that make up the bulk of Ghana’s transport system. Take a trip on ‘I Shall Return’, or visit ‘It Will Grow Back’ hairdressers and eat, if you still have an appetite, at ‘Stomach Takes No Holidays’ chop bar.

Ethical Travel Issues and advice

Displacement of Local Peoples:

Tourism development has caused many communities to be forcibly displaced. Indigenous groups, people living in informal settlements, or people who lack official title deeds to their lands are particularly vulnerable to displacement or loss of access to lands and waters essential for their livelihoods. This often happens with little or no warning, compensation or alternative provision.

Governments and private companies have forced many tribal peoples from their ancestral lands to make way for national parks and so called ‘eco-tourism’. Fishing communities are removed from their coastal villages and blocked from accessing the sea as hotels are built and beaches are privatised, destroying livelihoods and traditional ways of life. Informal settlements are bulldozed under beautification projects in the lead up to major international sporting events.

To learn more check out the following Tourism Concern articles on Land displacement:

https://tourismconcern.wpengine.com/displacement-caused-by-tourism/

Ethical Photography:

Travelling presents an opportunity to photograph in lots of different destinations and situations, but sometimes there may be culturally sensitive issues to think about before reaching for the camera or other photo-taking device. There are lots of people in the world who do not have clean water, electricity, schooling or enough to eat, let alone access to mobile telephones, the internet and printed media, so they have no idea where their photograph may end up or how it could be used. Sadly, in this day and age, child prostitution, child trafficking and other crimes against children are facilitated via the Internet, and photography can play an unwitting and innocent role. Photography and its use is no longer straight forward, so perhaps it is time to stop and think a little about the ethics of photography.

Taking photos of friendly local people can be a highlight for many travellers and photographers. Smiles are universal ways to engage, as is showing people the photo you just took of them. If you show an interest in their work or ask them questions, they’ll be happy to have their picture taken. In some touristy places it has become common for people to ask for money for their photos to be taken. Do as you wish, but a photo of someone you shared a laugh with may have a better lasting impression than one you paid for. Don’t forget the same holds true for any porters and guides that may help you along the way. Take an interest in them and you’ll be rewarded with more great photo opportunities.

To learn more check out the following Tourism Concern articles on ethical photography: https://tourismconcern.wpengine.com/ethical-photography/

Bushmeat:

More than half of Ghana’s 20 million population live within 100 km of the coast and rely on fish as source of dietary protein. As fish stocks have declined and prices rise, increasing numbers have turned to bush meat as an alternative source of protein. Bushmeat trade in Ghana is estimated to exceed 400,000 tonnes per year, species affected include antelope, carnivores and small primates.

Ghanaian forests are part of the Upper Guinean Hotspot, one of the 25 most biologically rich and endangered ecosystems in the world. In Ghana alone, there are 59 endangered mammal species, many of which continue to be offered in the market for bushmeat consumption. When eating in restaurants, be sure to understand what is on the menu so as not to encourage the ‘exotic’ food industry, which is leading to increased poaching.

See more at Right Tourism: http://right-tourism.com/issues/animals-on-the-menu/bushmeat/#sthash.6toJ6hjz.dpbs

Water Equity:

Kpalang village, Ghana.

Tourists use more water than the ordinary consumer. Indeed, the water ‘footprint’ of the Western world, as in our carbon footprint, is very high. There are already serious water shortages worldwide and a prediction of ‘water wars’.

The United Nations has claimed that ‘The average tourist uses as much water in 24 hours as a third world villager would use to produce rice for 100 days.’ Tourists need unlimited supplies of water – they are used to it at home and desire copious amounts on holiday: for drinking, baths and showers, swimming pools, overflowing fountains and green manicured lawns.

But water, in developing countries, is often a precious commodity. More than 2 billion people lack access to clean water and sanitation, and 80 per cent of all deaths in the developing world are water related. Put a hotel near a local community and the pressure on the water supply is acute.

Tourism Concern has extensively campaigned on water equity and have published reports & articles on the topic. To learn more check out the following Tourism Concern articles:

https://tourismconcern.wpengine.com/water-equity-in-tourism/

https://tourismconcern.wpengine.com/new-report-reveals-massive-water-inequity-between-tourism-and-locals/

https://tourismconcern.wpengine.com/end-water-injustice/

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