In 2010, receipts from the tourism industry amounted to over 1.6 billion dollars placing it as the fourth largest foreign exchange earner to the country. It contributed over 6 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009. However if serious attention is not given to the planning, development, principles and ethics in the industry, the hen that lays the golden eggs faces serious threat!

It is an undeniable fact that the movement, the stay and the facilities which are created to meet
the needs of tourists have some environmental consequences for the tourist destination. On the other hand, the quality of tourists? experience depends to a large extent on the environment in which tourism takes place. Both the natural environment, including land, water, plants and animals and the man-made environment, which includes superstructure and infrastructure, form the basis of the tourism industry. Thus tourism thrives in an attractive environment.

It is against this background that CODGHA is appalled at the wanton destruction and pollution
along our coasts, especially in Bortianor, Tsokome and Labadi. An investigation by CODGHA to ascertain the environmental impacts of coastal resorts in the country, has confirmed widespread destruction of the coastal ecosystem. Some of the issues identified bordered on littering, discharge of sewage directly into the sea, and the Densu Estuary, defecation at certain portions of the coastline and dumping of waste in close proximity to the sea.

It was discovered that some of the hotels discharged their sewage either directly into the sea or the Densu Estuary. For instance, some resorts in Tsokome and Bortianor had their bath rooms located right at the bank of the estuary where tourists could wash down after bathing in the sea. This could have serious implication for aquatic life in the estuary. Also, some of the locals tend to defecated at certain portions along the coast and some communities had their refuse dumps in close proximity to the sea, especially in the Bortianor community.

There were instances where refuse produced by some hotels had been kept there for weeks suggesting that some hotels did not constantly clean their surroundings? on a daily basis.
The only high rise buildings in the communities were found out to be coastal resorts, suggesting that, the design of hotel buildings are different in terms of style, shape and architecture thereby constituting architectural pollution.

Our recommendation:
Since the locals themselves have some negative impacts on the environment, there is the need for
environmental awareness creation to sensitize the locals on the health and economic implications of poor sanitation. There is also the need for government to pay serious attention to the sanitation conditions of the country as current world ranking in respect to sanitary conditions is likely to have some negative implications for our tourism industry.

The environmental protection agencies should strengthen and empower inspection teams in order to ensure that, coastal resorts adhere strictly to the environmental laws of the country as some of the hotels were operating without environmental permits.

Last but not least, there should be collaboration among the stakeholders in the community towards environmental improvement and sanitation. For example, the hotels could collaborate
with other stakeholders such as youth associations and District Assemblies to periodically clean the beaches and also serve as watch dogs which would put off some locals from defecating at certain portions of the beach.

To this end, we are calling on the Ghana Tourism Authority, Environmental Protection Agency and relevant District Assemblies to collaborate with the appropriate stakeholders in finding a lasting solution to the appalling filth and pollution that has engulfed our beaches, as it is having serious negative impacts on the tourism industry.

Signed:
Dr. Ishmael Mensah
(Director of Research and Editorial Policy)
Agyei Kwame Williams
(Executive Director)

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