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Paragliding, from sports to tourism…South Africa, Ghana showing the way

A captivating scene of lakes, rivers, estuaries and beaches gently unfolds against a backdrop of lush forest and lofty mountain. These are all elements that characterize Paragliding.

For a long time, it has been a desire of man to fly in the open skies, enjoy the beauties of nature and look upon the landscapes, rivers, and mountains from high above.

Paragliding is the recreational and competitive adventure sport of flying paragliders: lightweight, free-flying, foot-launched glider aircraft with no rigid primary structure.

Despite not using an engine, paraglider flights can last many hours and cover many hundreds of kilometres, though flights of 1–2 hours and covering some tens of kilometres are more the norm.

Paragliding is a potentially dangerous recreational activity. In the United States for example, an average of slightly less than 1 in every 1,000 active paraglider pilots has been fatally injured every year since 1994. In France around 6 of every 1,000 pilots were seriously injured, while only 2 of every 10,000 pilots were fatally injured in 2011.

With all the challenges characterized in paragliding, it remains one of the sorts after recreational activities worldwide.

Though the adventure has its roots from Europe and the Americas, South Africa and Ghana has showed that the sports can be use as a potential landmark to boost tourism on the continent.

Paragliding in South Africa

Haven’t we all at some point watched in envy as raptors soared overhead in flight? South Africa’s many ridges and mountain lines run like great arteries throughout the country, making paragliding in South Africa both a delight and, at times, a daunting challenge. South Africa is the first African country to engage paragliding as a recreational activity.

South Africa is a popular tourist destination, and a substantial amount of revenue comes from tourism. Among the main attractions are the diverse and picturesque culture, the game reserves and the highly regarded local wines. In recent years, tourism in South Africa has seen high growth with the first five months of 2007 showing the highest levels of tourism in South Africa since 1998.

The South African Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (SAHPA) has generated more than 50% of world records in this sport – most of them established in the Karoo.

Although most of the country’s 9 provinces offer the sport, the relatively flat Karoo heartland is one of the best areas for paragliding. The towns of De Aar and Kuruman in the Northern Cape Province are the centers of Karoo paragliding.

The Western Cape has more than 60 official paragliding launch-and-flight sites.

KwaZulu-Natal Midlands are also a favored spot for this rewarding leisure activity.

Paragliding is the simplest and purest form of flying there is. Whether you dream of soaring above the hills, or taking your canopy on holiday with you to explore exotic locations from the air, paragliding is the way to go.

Paragliding in Ghana

When you step off of the plane in Accra, the capital of Ghana, the equatorial air hits you like a steamy, sultry cloud, full of unfamiliar aromas and promises of exciting adventures. Loud music, hot food, gorgeous views and friendly faces begin to warm your soul and spread a huge smile across your face! And that’s not all that you have to be happy about, because there is also plenty of sky to explore while free-flying!

Since its inception in 2005, the Kwahu Easter Paragliding Festival has attracted thousands of Ghanaians from all walks of life and foreigners alike.

Twenty-one pilots from the United States of America, Norway, France, Brazil, Japan, South Africa and Australia participates Paragliding festival on the Atibie Kwahu Mountains in the Eastern Region.

Paragliders are not cheap, although they represent one of the least expensive ways to get into the air. A new paraglider suitable for a recently trained pilot will cost up to around £2,000; secondhand canopies can be obtained for much less.

The Minister for Tourism, Ms. Akua Dansua reiterated her Ministry’s agenda to promote tourism internationally and domestically, adding that the paragliding festival at Kwahu is going to be a significant part of this development.

According to her, with the passage of the Tourism Bill by Parliament, which is awaiting presidential assent, Tourism development will be taken to another level.

She encouraged stakeholders in the industry to continue to nurture the festival and other domestic tourism programmes to attract participation from both local and international visitors as Ghana prepares to move into a phase of accelerated development and modernisation agenda.

The Paragliding festival enriched the local economy since facilities such as hotels and restaurants experience increased patronage.

According to the Special Events Manager of the Ghana Tourist Authority (GTA), Benjamin Anane Nsiah the 2012 paragliding festival in Kwahu suffered a decline in revenue compared to that of last year.

The low revenue was blamed on bad weather conditions that caused disruption in flights.

GTA officials say already, more than 200 people subscribed to paragliding one of the biggest sorts after events in West Africa.

The Kwahu Easter Paragliding Festival has become a popular event attraction on the country’s tourism calendar and imprinted on the country’s domestic tourism calendar.

It is normally characterised by a plethora of entertainment, music and dancing, greatly enhancing domestic tourism as it encourages more Ghanaians to show interest in the tourism potentials of the country.

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May 4, 2012 - Posted by | SETTING THE NEWS AGENDA

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