The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has endorsed thirty-four events and activities to mark ‘The Year of Return 2019’.
The endorsement was made under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture and the Diaspora Affairs Unit at the Office of the President.
‘The Year of Return’ is a global homecoming event aimed at attracting the biggest number of Africans in the Diaspora to Ghana this year to mark and celebrate 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America in 1619.
About 500,000 Africans in the Diaspora are expected to arrive in the country to take part in the historic event out of which 350,000 of them are expected to come from North America.
Some activities outlined to mark and celebrate ‘The Year of Return’ 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.
Chairman of the Committee and Director of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President, Mr. Akwasi Awua Ababio indicated that individuals who are interested in hosting group events as part of the programme can submit proposals to be considered.
He said the event, is opened to all African-Americans in the diaspora, particularly in the United States of America, the Caribbean, Canada and among others.
He added that: “As we gear up for ‘The Year of Return’, we also want to assure our brothers from the diaspora that government is ready to facilitate their warmest stay in Ghana and for investment and residential purposes here”.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the GTA and Coordinator of the Steering Committee, Mr Akwasi Agyeman, said the event would come with enormous business opportunities that would boost the economic fortunes of the Ghana.
According to him, ‘The Year of Return’ is a spiritual and sacred journey for majority of African-Americans who will be visiting the country.
“For those who will step foot on the continent for the very first time of their lives after the 400 years, it is going to be very emotional for them, being fully aware of their ancestry. We are targeting at least half a million of such persons in the diaspora to visit Ghana this year,” Mr. Agyeman said.
He urged stakeholders in the tourism industry to position themselves strategically to tap into the opportunities.
Also present was Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States (US), Dr Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, who noted that the Ghana Embassy in the USA is making every effort to attract African-Americans to the country, not only to come and spend but also enjoy the hospitality here.
He encouraged Ghanaians to grab the opportunity to display how loving and hospitable they are 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 said.