The Forestry Commission and BraveHearts Expeditions, an adventure tourism company, have launched the National Biking and Abseiling Festival at the Shai Hills Resource Reserve over the weekend.
The biking and abseiling event would become an integral part of activities at the reserve. Abseil is a controlled descent of a vertical surface, such as a rock face, using a doubled rope tied round the body and fixed at a higher point.
The festival is aimed at using such adventure sports to attract more visitors to the reserve aside the observation of the wildlife stock.
Deputy Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr John Allotey, who launched the festival, said the country had over the years concentrated its tourism development on ecotourism and cultural tourism to the detriment of adventure tourism.
He said the event would provide Ghanaians and other nationals the opportunity to experience the adventure tourism potential of the Shai Hills Resource Reserve.
“There is no other place in this country, where you can ride a bicycle for sports to the wide-eyed spectatorship of wildlife. This unique experience is expected to boost the tourism potential of the park, generate the much-needed revenues to support the park and other conservation efforts of the commission and the government,” Mr Allotey said.
He lauded BraveHearts Expeditions for the partnership in introducing the innovative ground-breaking initiative with the potential to create jobs and generate income.
Reverend David Kpelle, the Director of Operations of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, assured the public that the adventure tourism service was environmentally sustainable, exciting and was being handled by experts who were internationally certified to undertake physically enduring events.
“After having watched the demonstration in the field, we are convinced that this new event has a lot of potential to introduce a new and exciting tourism product on the Ghanaian tourism landscape,” he said.
The Expedition Leader at BraveHearts, Mr Jayjay D. Segbefia, said the introduction of adventure tourism was to change the Ghanaian perception about tourism.
“We want to prove that conservation efforts are best engaged in, if the relationship is experiential instead of the passive viewership which is usually the norm. By validating this kind of model, we are proving that it is not just a matter of driving around to see what is in the reserve but experiencing and feeling it through the whole process,” he stressed.
He said the Shai Hills had well-marked trails and roads for the activity because it was a protected area and had the rare advantage of running into wildlife, while riding a bicycle.
Established in the 1960s, the Shai Hills reserve is home to a congress of 30 baboons, three different species of monkeys, 500 antelopes, 175 bird species, wild cats and the recently added zebras and ostriches.
It has witnessed increased visitation with about 15,000 visitors annually in the last three years.