‘Beyond the Year of Return’ should also incorporate concerns of African diaspora

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The success chalked by the ‘Year of Return’ in terms of tourism visitations has prompted the Ghana Tourists Authority (GTA) to replicate its interest and attract a steady stream of tourists to come to Ghana on annual basis, thereby putting the country on list of preferred tourists destinations in Africa.

CEO of GTA, Akwasi Agyeman, recently announced the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative to complement the success chalked under the Year of Return and noted the campaign will last for 10 years, as part of a strategy to attract investments to various sectors of the economy.

He further stated that the initiative, launched by President Nana Akufo-Addo last month, is expected to significantly transform the economy in the next decade, adding that several measure are being put in place to shape the execution of activities during the period.

GTA is aiming to build on the success of the Year of Return programme which saw over 1.1 million tourist visiting the country in 2019 from the 956,000 recorded in 2018. Last year’s figure represents about 200,000 increase in number of visits over the previous years.

There has been little doubt that tourism can be a leading revenue generator for the Ghanaian economy and it is high time we position to do exactly that. Now that GTA has realized the interest coming from the African diaspora and the historical ties that binds us, it has decided to capitalize on that increase tourist visitation to the country.

The Year of Return was hugely successful owing to the historical relevance of the event and how Ghana has significant landmarks like the slave castles and other UNESCO heritage sites that abound in the country that visitors can relate to.

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It is therefore heartening to learn that the GTA as a matter of priority intends to improve the country’s heritage infrastructure. This is crucial since some of the road network to places of interest is nothing to write home about.

Lest we forget, both Emancipation Day and PANAFEST were instituted with the same focus but somewhere along the line, the interest generated waned and the numbers started going down for some reason or the other.

It would be useful to find out why, because it might be useful in informing the strategy for ‘Beyond the Year of Return’ since we hope to tap into the same African diaspora. We believe the engagement is necessary to sustain the interest and visitation.

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