The Minister for Tourism, Art and Culture, Hon. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal has said he will make sure “Oda Big Tree” becomes one of the most attractive tourist sites in West Africa.
The big tree is located in Akyem Aprokumase in the Essen-Apam Forest Reserve, documents at the Forestry Commission suggest that the tree stands is in the Asuboni Forest Reserve.
It has a diameter of 3.22 meters at 1.37 meters, 2.72 meters at 3.1 meters, making 12 meters in circumference and 66.5-90 meters tall and girth is 10.11 metres at 1.4 metres and 8.63 metres at 3.1 meters.
The “Aprokumase Big Tree” is believed to be the biggest tree in West Africa and is of the Bako species with Tieghemela Heckle as its botanical name.
The Aprokumase Big Tree site has existed for over 400 years, was not a tourist site until 2004 when the then Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey designated this place as a tourist site.
The Minister of Tourism addressing the people during the commissioning of the site charged Ghana Tourism Development Company and Ghana Tourism Federation to ensure that within one year, 3,000 visitors troop into Aprokumase to visit the “Big Tree” to generate 250 jobs for Akyem Manso and its environs annually.
He noted that 250,000 people from the diaspora are expected to visit the “Oda Big Tree” at the last quarter of the year of the “Beyond the Return” project to generate income for the people of Akyem Manso.
We are expecting 250,00 people from the diaspora under the Beyond the Return project, I will make sure they visit the big and that will generate into income for the nation.
He urged the chiefs and residents of Akyem Manso to take good care of the site for it to last long for the next generation to benefit from it.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Tourism Development Company, Kwadwo Odame Antwi said “as part of our planned programme to improve existing tourist site, we took stocks on the list of the existing tourist site and look at which has the biggest potential to improve tourism travel and will make the biggest impact on the local economy.
The Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Acheampong revealed that government was determined to put more efforts into most of the tourism sites in Ghana to create jobs and brings economic life-changing to the lives of Ghanaians.
“We have no doubt as a government that tourism has the potential to engineer the growth we seek, create jobs, and bring about the economic transformation in the lives of the people.
“Government is therefore determined to invest in most of the tourist attractions across the country and we in the Eastern Region are focused on upgrading existing sites and developing newly discovered ones as part of this national agenda,” he said.
He continued that the government of President Akufo-Addo, since coming into power has invested heavily in the tourism and creative arts economy.
He congratulated the Minister of Tourism, Art and Culture, and CEO of GTDC for the re-development of the facility fully through its internally generated revenue and also thanked Obrempong Sintim Poku III and the entire Traditional Council for their support in the execution of the project.
The Chief of Akyem Manso Traditional Area Obrempong Sintim Poku III said one of the challenges the forest is facing is encroachment,People are doing farming around the area some are also doing illegal chainsaw operation in forest and if care is not taking they destroy the forest so he urged the security agency and the forestry commission to take steps in stoping that illegal chainsaw operations in the forest so that they will not destroy the forest.
He call on the authorities to protect the forest for them so that future generations will also see the Big Tree.
Obrempong Sintim Poku III urged the Municipal Assembly to be serious in generating funds from the Big Tree Tourist attraction Center.
He entreat them to give government pressure so that they will advertise the place for people to petronise it.