Barbara Oteng Gyasi
Barbara Oteng-Gyasi

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, on Thursday, announced in Accra that a 10 –year programme, called the “Decade of African Renaissance 2020-2030” has been initiated to grow Ghana’s tourism industry.

She said the programme would showcase the potential of Ghana’s tourism industry and consolidate its Diaspora engagement.

The Minister made the announcement, while answering a question from Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, who wanted to know “the volume of visitors associated with the Year of Return initiative and the estimated economic gains for Ghana for the 2019 Fiscal Year”.

The Programme was to help Africans in the Diaspora to reconnect with their African roots.

It was a landmark spiritual and birth-right journey inviting the global African family, home and abroad, to mark 400 years since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the United States.

Mrs Oteng-Gyasi gave thumbs up to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for launching the Programme and described as “unimaginable how much of an impact the Year of Return would make on the local and global scales.”

She said: “Right Honourable Speaker, by the end of the year, international travels reached 1.13 million from 956,372 in 2018, a 27% growth, which was above the global average of 5%.

The average expenditure per tourist increased from $2, 708 in 2018 to $2,931 in 2019.

“The receipts attributed to tourism are, therefore, $3,312 billion.”

The Minister said the increased number of travelers to Ghana positively impacted private sector industries such as airlines, hotels tour operators, restaurants and art and craft dealers, among others.

She said 126 African Diasporians were granted citizenship, “ and this was the highest group of African Diasporans to receive citizenship in one instance.”

There were also school projects such as those in Akosombo, Chorkor and Bortianor in Greater Accra; and boreholes in Akropong and an ICT centre in Nyamebekyere, which have become legacies of the Year of Return.

In addition to an enhanced media mileage, the coverage of the Year of Return, the Minster said, “changed the narrative about Africa and branded Ghana as the gateway to Africa and one of the top tourism, investment and repatriation destinations in the world.”

The Minister the nation also benefited from the visit of leading world figures such as the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus, American Comedian Steve Harvey, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President, Derrick Johnson; Mia Mottley the Prime Minister of Barbados, among others.

“After visiting Ghana major celebrities, influencers, and visitors have posted on Facebook, Instagram over 100,000 times about Year of Return.

“Social media posts about the Year of Return from top celebrities such as Steve Harvey, Boris Kodjoe, Sarkodie, Deborah Cox, Bozoma, and media companies and many more have reached more that 20 million people,” she said.

“Steve Harvey as a follow up to the Year of Return, has started recording his world renowned program, “Family Feud”, in Ghana”.

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