The novel Coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on various sectors of the global economy including tourism.
As such, managers of the Kumasi Zoo are asking authorities in the sector to come up with some measures to sustain the industry.
A visit by Citi Business News to the Kumasi Zoo showed that although management has put in place some measures to curtail the spread of the virus, it has been shut down temporarily.
The Manager of the facility, who is also the Veterinary Officer at the facility, Dr. Meyir Ziekah, told Citi Business News they initially faced some difficulties during the construction of the Kejetia Market, as tourists could not make it to the Zoo due to a road block.
He says although the Zoo saw a 300% rise in the number of tourists that visited particularly during the Year of Return after the facility was revamped with new animals such as lions; the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot.
“Together with the drive to redevelop the zoo by bringing in key animals such as lions that were not here, we have seen an increase in the number of tourists that come to the Zoo. For instance in 2018, the number of tourists we had was about 17,000 for the whole year.”
“And in 2019, we recorded almost 60,000 visitors, and that was about 300% increment in terns of the number of tourists that visited us. As a result of the Year of Return Program that we had tourists also coming in from outside the country and from Accra to Kumasi because of the cultural name that Kumasi has, we also had a fair share of that number of visitors.”
According to him, the closure of the zoo means that no revenue is being generated, although they have to cater for the animals. Fortunately for them however, workers have not been laid off because they’re on the public sector payroll.
Dr. Meyir Ziekah added that authorities must find ways for the facility to keep running; amidst adherence to the COVID-19 safety.
“It is very important that experts come together to see the way forward. The dos and don’ts that we should do as a people that will guide us to open up our system back to normal activities.”
“In terms of tourism, in terms of education, in terms of other aspects of our daily lives. If we watch the figures that come out from Ghana Health Service, I think we are not there yet. But what we have been thinking of is that putting some measures in place so that in case the system is opened up, we are thinking of some protocols in place, so that our tourism industry can still survive.”
The Education and Outreach Officer at the Zoo, Jemimah Kesse, also spoke about other negative impact of the Zoo’s closure.
“Research students have also been affected, in the Universities, when they were sent home, some of them had this place as their project site, but due to the measures that were put in place, some of them had to change their topics so that they can finish on time. Others also were coming for field studies and they realized that because of the closure, it also became difficult”.
But the Manager says they’re putting measures in place to replicate what is now known as virtual tourism which is being practiced at the Mole National Park in the Savannah Region.
“Mole National Park which is under the wildlife division is doing what we call the virtual tourism, where every morning tour guards go into the park to bring live coverage of whatever is there, and people follow it on Facebook and they enjoy it a lot. Kumasi Zoo, we are currently doing some renovation and when we are done, we will also follow with that kind of virtual tours.” Dr. Meyir Ziekah noted.