China / World

Ghana surfing on tourism success

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-07-10 07:12

KOKROBITE, Ghana - Brett Davies paced up and down the sloping sands of Kokrobite beach in Ghana, organizing surfers from 20 countries at his annual international competition.

Along the beach, about 30 kilometers west of capital Accra, dotted with dugout fishing boats, vendors were selling T-shirts as children played in the sand.

Davies, 42, is leading the push to bring surfers to the West African nation as a way to help boost the country's underdeveloped tourism sector.

The Briton already runs a surf school at Kokrobite and has helped to bring surfing to Busua, near the border with Cote d'Ivoire.

"The greatest thing about surfing in Ghana is that we have uncrowded world-class waves that appeal to the beginner and intermediate market," he said.

"Most well-known destinations are very localized and very intimidating to the average surfer."

At the competition, which was held last month, local reggae boomed from the speakers stacked in the corner of a car-park.

In the water, Emmanuel Ansah cut across the breaks, deftly maneuvering his board, trying to catch the eye of the judges sitting on a wooden platform, looking out to sea.

The 19-year-old from Busua started surfing five years ago and described his first time on the waves as "like having a new girlfriend".

"I was so happy," he said. Now he, too, wants to see Ghana become a surfing destination in its own right - and one day represent the West African nation at overseas competitions.

According to the World Bank, 897,000 foreign tourists visited Ghana in 2015. In comparison, 1.1 million went to Kenya and 8.9 million traveled to South Africa.

But the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates numbers for Ghana could jump to nearly 1.3 million this year and more than 2 million by 2027.

With about 550 kilometers of unspoiled coastline, water sports are being seen as a major draw.

"Surfing has a huge potential," said Ghana tourism specialist Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey. "We have not developed our beaches.

"It's a raw opportunity for anyone who wants to come."

Agence France-presse

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