Ghana’s economy has generated a total of $1.9 billion through activities related to the “Year of Return.”
Some of the activities that have contributed to this figure include air travel, hotel accommodation, transport fares, as well as other key entertainment events.
“There has been tremendous community involvement which has stimulated the local economy including hoteliers, tour operating and other related businesses,” Ghana’s Tourism Minister Barbara Oteng-Gyasi said during the inauguration of a tourist center at Anomabo, a town in the Central Region.
The minister said the tourist center will serve as an information center and provide a welcoming environment for tourists, Graphic Online reports.
Ghana’s “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.
This initiative has seen an array of celebrities across the globe make their way into Ghana to explore, learn and appreciate their roots, as well as, unite with Africans on the continent.
Steve Harvey, Nicole Ari Parker, Diggy Simmons, and Micheal Jai White, and Bozoma Saint John have been among a host of celebrities to have spent a significant part of their month in Ghana.
The Minister of Tourism said the “Year of Return” had “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.”
As part of the yearlong “Year of Return” celebrations, the president of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, recently granted citizenship to 126 diasporans who have been residing in the West African nation for several years.
Ghana is the only country in the 21st century that has legally offered to resettle people of African descent in Africa. In the year 2000, Ghana became the first African country to officially open its doors to people of African descent from all over the world.
The West African country passed the “Right of Abode” law which allows any person of African descent to apply and be granted the right to stay in Ghana indefinitely.
This was followed by the launch of the Diaspora Affairs Bureau under the foreign affairs ministry in 2014 to manage the migration and engage the diaspora to provide a sustainable link with various government agencies to achieve development and investment goals.
As of 2014, over 3,000 African-Americans and people of Caribbean descent are estimated to be living in Ghana.
In 2016 alone, 34 Afro-Caribbeans were granted Ghanaian citizenship to enjoy full benefits as Ghanaians. Those who have stayed on appreciate the warmth and peacefulness of the country despite the few cultural setbacks like being regarded as more American and Caribbean than African despite years of living in the country.
Meanwhile, Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’ Secretariat indicated last month that its data for the first nine months of 2019 showed 80,862 more arrivals from the United States of America (USA), Britain (UK) and other key target nations than the figure recorded the previous year.
The figures show that in-bound airport arrivals from the USA increased by 26 percent (17,455) and the UK by 24 percent (9,812). An official noted, “Total airport arrivals have increased by 45 percent (237,088), compared to last year.”
And to further make it easier for persons of color wanting to visit Ghana, the secretariat announced that it is offering visa on arrival for individuals traveling to Ghana to attend ‘Year of Return’ events.