Tourism Ministry is ready for collaboration :The Year of Return launched
The Tourism Ministry of Ghana officially launched the 2019 Year of the Return at the Tourist Information Centre last Monday, the 15th of January. The aim of the press conference was to outdoor a year long calendar of social and cultural activities celebrating Ghana and it’s diaspora relations. The event follows President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo’s declaration at the United nations Press Club, qualifying 2019 as the year dedicated to African ancestors who were taken into the Americas in the 17 and 18th centuries. This period is widely known as the start of a painful and damning era in World history.
A quick glance at scheduled events for 2019 showcases an emphasis on culture, history, diversity, and more importantly, identity. It goes without saying that there is a heightened interest in Ghana for tourism purposes externally and internally, and for that reason the Year of the Return celebration is just in order and in time. There are about 30 activities planned for year, amongst which old and new events such as the Chalewote Festival and newcomer event, Afrochella, are a part of. Other events planed later down the year include, Back to Back festival, The Pan African Student Summit, Ghana Jamaican Homecoming Festival as well as the Waxprint Film Documentary.
It is interesting to note that while The Ghana Tourism Authority has taken up the mantle to publicize these cultural activities, the organizations behind them are private and funded by individuals and teams. This was emphasized further by the CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Akwasi Agyeman who said that his outfit and the Ministry is still open to engage with any team or entity that wants to organize or host an event to commemorate the Year of the Return. He said that the Authority is accessible and ready to offer the needed support to anyone who is ready to give creative ideas, life.
It is evident that government has big plans for Ghana’s tourism sector. The Year of the Return, is a clarion call for the diaspora to begin a journey of much-needed spiritual, cultural healing and at the barest possibility, some closure. it is also a tremendous opportunity for Ghana to leverage on the economic and social, historical and academic opportunities this commemoration will birth. According to Akwasi Agyeman, while there are still several challenges to overcome, the Authority is fully aware that this is a full propeller in restructuring Ghana’s tourism sector. It will be exciting to see how this plays out. It is about time there were significantly more visible partnerships between youthful creatives and state. For many young creative entrepreneurs, accessibility has always been the bane of the work we do. Now that the door is figuratively open for engagement, it will be telling to see whether it is adequately taken advantage of.
The Year of the Return (YOR) expects an average of 300,000 to 350,000 tourists from the Americas, through out the year. YOR is facilitated by the Ghana Tourism Authority and the Office of the Diaspora Affairs, the Panafest Foundation and the Adinkra Group, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture.