Mr Akwasi Agyemang (left), Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, addressing participants at the press launch of “The Year of Return Ghana 2019” in Accra.
About half a million Africans in the Diaspora are expected to arrive in the country to take part in “The Year of Return Ghana 2019”, a historic campaign to mark the end of 400 years of the slave trade in Ghana.
According to the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), out of the number, 350,000 participants would come from North America, while the rest would come from the Caribbean, South America and Europe.
The event would come with enormous business opportunities that would boost the economic fortunes of the country, the Chief Executive Officer of the GTA, Mr Akwasi Agyeman, said at the press conference to launch the campaign in Accra yesterday.
He, therefore, urged stakeholders in the tourism industry, such as the Ghana Hotels Association, the Tour Guides Association, the Tour Operators Union of Ghana and airline operators, to position themselves strategically to tap into the opportunities.
“The Year of Return Ghana 2019” is a global homecoming event aimed at attracting the biggest number of Africans in the Diaspora to Ghana this year.
The calendar of events include a Black History Month in February, Ghana’s Independence Day celebration in March, Heritage Paragliding Festival in April, Ghana-Jamaica Homecoming Festival between April and May, the Pan-African Festival of Arts and Culture (PANAFEST) from July to August and Emancipation Day in August.
The campaign was launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at America’s National Press Club in Washington, DC, in September 2018.
To make the best of the opportunity, Mr Agyeman said, the authority was collaborating with the various stakeholders in the tourism industry to reposition themselves to offer professional services that would enable the visitors to relish their stay in the country.
To ensure aggressive marketing of the event, he said, the GTA was holding a series of stakeholders’ meetings to sell the idea to the international community and Ghanaians at home and abroad.
The event would focus not so much on the negative aspects of the slave trade, he said, adding that the initiative would showcase the best part of Ghana’s cultural heritage, tourist attractions and hospitality.
The tourism bonanza is expected to build on the legacy of other Pan-African projects, such as the Joseph Project, Emancipation Day and PANAFEST.
“We believe the event will present us with an opportunity to attract more people who will come and invest and employ Ghanaians,” he said.
Making Ghana attractive for youth
The Director of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President, Mr Akwasi Awua Ababio, who also addressed the conference, said as Ghana continued to be the headquarters for the fight for African liberation and the symbol of hope for African emancipation, it continued to seek deeper socio-cultural, economic and political inclusion for “our kith and kin from the Diaspora”.
“As we mark the Year of Return to bring our Diasporan community home, the government is also committed to improving upon our economy and discouraging irregular migration by making sure that young men and women could achieve their dreams here in Ghana,” he said.
Showcase best part of Ghana
Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States (US), Dr Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, said the Ghana Embassy in the USA was making every effort to attract African-Americans to the country, not only to come and spend but also enjoy the hospitality here.
He expressed the hope that Ghanaians would grab the opportunity to display how loving and hospitable they were to those who would arrive in the country in 2019 and beyond.
“We have to take this opportunity to showcase the country and the kind of loving and welcoming people we are to encourage people to come and do respectable investments,” he added.