Year Of Return Yielded $3.312bn

Barbara Oteng Gyasi

GHANA’S INTERNATIONAL arrivals grew by 27 per cent last year, reaching 113 million from 956,372 in 2018 due to the Year of Return programme by the government.

Minister for Tourism, Art and Culture, Barbara Oteng Gyasi, who made this known, said 27 per cent growth, was above the global average of five per cent, adding that the average expenditure per tourist also increased from US$2,708 in 2018 to US$2,931 in 2019.

“The receipt attributed to tourism is, therefore, US$3,312 billion. The increased number of travelers to Ghana positively impacted private sector industries such as airlines, hotels, tour operators, restaurants and art and crafts dealers (sic),” the Minister indicated.

Answering questions on the Floor of Parliament yesterday, Madam Oteng Gyasi, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) of Prestea Huni-Valley, noted that several hotels announced 100 per cent capacity for the month of December.

The MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, had asked the minister the volume of visitors associated with the Year of Return initiative and the estimated economic gains to the country for the 2019 fiscal year.

The minister indicated that “Art Centre merchants also reported doubling their sales in 2019 compared to 2018. In terms of expenditure areas, accommodations at 41 per cent was the highest area of expenditure, followed by food and beverages (21%), shopping (14%), local transport (eight per cent), entertainment (five per cent) and other spending (11%).”

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in August 2018, launched the Year of Return, Ghana, 2019, which was aimed to increase the number of international arrivals to a million visitors, cement Ghana’s Pan African legacy and brand it as the gateway of Africa.

The Tourism Minister told Parliament that many people heeded the call and made the journey to Ghana to experience the country’s culture, heritage, people and history.

“An integral part of commemorating the year and celebrating African resilience was in having events that would not only encourage people to visit, but to also provide spaces where the local community could connect with the African diaspora who came into the country.”

She disclosed that at the conclusion of the Year of Return programme, there were over 150 endorsed events, press conferences, airport welcomes and Master classes, and added that some activities were on a smaller scale, while others were grand with thousands of attendees.

Barbara said in addition to the economic impact, social projects such as schools in Akosombo, Chorkor, Bortianor, boreholes in Akropong and an ICT centre in Nyamebekyre had become legacies of the Year of Return.

“The Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) which measures the cost of equivalent amount of advertising space if paid for is estimated at US$3.5 million. Social Media Reach increased substantial global media attention on Ghana and was valued at US$1.9 million.”

By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House