Visitors traveling to Ghana during “The Year of Return” will not be obliged to own visas before traveling to the West African country.
It follows the introduction of new measures by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that would enable visitors traveling to the country during “The Year of Return’ obtain visas-on-arrival.
The directive from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be implemented collaboratively with immigration authorities.
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“Travelers are, however, to note that the first option would be to obtain visas from Ghana missions in their countries of residence,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
“The aim is to ease the process and to make it easier for people to acquire visas. It doesn’t mean one cannot come to the Embassy for a visa. The Visa on Arrival directive from the Minister of Foreign Affairs is just an option for travelers to explore to make their traveling smooth,” Kofi Tonto, the head of information and public affairs at the Ghana Embassy in the U.S. told Face2Face Africa.
“Those who’ve already submitted their documents for Visas, do not need to come for them. We’ll process them and get back to them. The new directive is just for a short period, especially to take care of those who make up their minds in the last minute to travel. We want to make sure we have everyone covered,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway in a brief to airlines requested they should not insist on entry visas from passengers traveling to Ghana before boarding.
“To facilitate their movement, the government has reduced the visa fees and also introduced the issuance of visa-on-arrival. I am appealing to your airline to support the effectiveness and efficiency of the Ghana Government’s incentives aimed at providing easy access to an entry visa.
“It should be appreciated if those responsible for checking-in passengers traveling to Ghana are advised not to insist on entry visas prior to their boarding,” she said.
Ghana’s economy has generated a total of $1.9 billion through activities related to the “Year of Return”, Tourism Minister Barbara Oteng-Gyasi said.
She said: “There has been tremendous community involvement which has stimulated the local economy including hoteliers, tour operating and other related businesses.”
The “Year of Return” program has already seen hundreds of African Americans visit the country to experience the history, culture and tradition upfront.
It is an initiative by the government of Ghana to mark 400 years since the first black slaves landed in Jamestown, Virginia.
According to data from ‘The Year of Return’ Secretariat in the first nine months of 2019, there have been 80,862 more arrivals from the United States of America, The United Kingdom, and other key target nations than the figure recorded the previous year.
The figures showed that in-bound airport arrivals from the United States of America increased by 26 percent (17,455) and The United Kingdom by 24 percent (9,812). An official noted, “Total airport arrivals have increased by 45 percent (237,088), compared to last year.”
“Although not all the 80,862 passengers could be classified as tourists, the YoR impact has undoubtedly surged interest in Ghana among Diasporan Africans in the UK and the USA since the programme got underway,” the Secretariat said.
Oteng-Gyasi said “The Year of Return…cemented Ghana’s pan-African legacy and had put a global spotlight on the country and helped to position it as a historic, cultural and vibrant hub and had as well changed the narrative of what was reported about Ghana and the rest of Africa in general.”
President Akufo-Addo recently granted citizenship to 126 diasporans who have been residing in the West African nation for several years as part of the yearlong “The Year of Return” celebrations.