Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng Gyasi, has claimed that the year of return initiative of the Akufo-Addo l government has raked in some $3,312 billion for the economy in the year 2019.
According to her, the year of return impacted the economy of Ghana through increasing international arrivals, branding Ghana as the gateway to Africa and a top diasporan repatriation destination, and increasing the amount of tourism dollars spent.
She said the objectives of the Year of Return were to: “1) Increase the number of international arrivals to 1 million visitors; 2) Cement Ghana’s Pan African legacy by building on the previous success of PANAFEST and efforts like the Joseph project instituted by the late Hon. Jake Okanta Obetsebi Lamptey; 3) Brand Ghana as the most preferred destination to Africa.”
The Minister made this known in Parliament on Thursday, May 28, 2020 in a response to a Parliamentary question filed by the Member of Parliament for the North Tongu constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who wanted to know the volume of visitors associated with the Year of Return initiative and the estimated economic gains to Ghana for the 2019 fiscal year.
The Minister in her response said, “by the end of the year, international arrivals 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 is therefore $3,312 billion.”
According to the Minister of Tourism, the increased number of travelers to Ghana positively impacted private sector industries such as airlines, hotels, tour operators, restaurants, and art and crafts dealers among others.
She indicated that, “for example, several hotels announced 100% capacity for the month of December. Art Center merchants also reported doubling their sales in 2019 compared to 2018. In terms of expenditure areas, Accommodations at 41% was the highest area of expenditure, followed by food and beverages (21%), shopping (14%), local transport (8%), entertainment (5%) and other spending (11%).”
Mrs. Barbara Oteng Gyasi also informed the House that the Government has initiated another project to build further on the success of the year of Return.
“Mr. Speaker, a ten year project dubbed ‘Beyond the Return’ a ‘Decade of African Renaissance 2020 – 2030’ has been initiated to grow Ghana’s Tourism Industry, showcase its investment potential and consolidate its Diaspora engagement.”
When asked how she intends to sustain the interest shown in the year of return, the Minister of Tourism said her Ministry is anticipating to hold virtual programmes in the second half of the year which the diaspora can participate in to sustain their interest in the country until 2021 where hopefully social gatherings can resume for the diaspora to physically participate in.
However, some of the Minority MPs were not convinced about the response of the Minister since they claim the figures she quoted as the revenue the accrued to government as the result of the Year of Return as well as the international arrivals do not add up.
Source: Clement Akoloh || parliamentnews360.com