GHANANIAN Deputy Minister of Tourism Art and Culture, Hon. Ziblim Iddi has said that since the launch of the Year of Return to mark over 400 years of the first slaves living the African shores people from all over the world are coming to touch Base with their roots giving Ghana the opportunity to build on its tourism industry.
This is just as he said Pan African tourism is the way to go for Africa to display and promote its hospitality, aesthetics and culture.
Hon. Iddi made this known at the 15th Akwaaba African Travel Market stating that over the years, Ghana has built infrastructure and is using this year to showcase the major tourism attraction the country has to the teeming influx of African-Americans who have traced their ancestry and returned home.
He said, “Over the years, we have over the years built infrastructure and we used this year to showcase the major tourism attraction we have in Ghana. So I can tell you especially from July through August to September, we have a lot of black visitors coming to Ghana from across the world, more so from the United States African Americans. Sometime in September we did what we call James Town to James town and have the privilege of welcoming over 250 African Americans in one flight.
“They all came to touch Base with Ghana and Africa. This is a historic year for all of us, every black people, even in the Bible it talked about 400 years and then the return to make sure that you get your people elevated, so all these black people who came saw Ghana as the Mecca of black people so they came on a pilgrimage home to touch Base with their people
He said The Year of Return is for the whole year and government has developed events and packages within the period for the people who are coming, ranging from education, culture, entertainment and the likes,
“We have a lot of super stars coming, Samuel L. Jackson, Steve Harvey came around, Debra Cosky was here, so many big stars. So we create opportunity for people to catch Ghana not just for tourism but also on investment, education, entertainment and also cultural ambassadors to promote African culture out there. I can tell you that even though we are in September there were so many people that came in July and August who have indicated interest to come and naturalize and become Ghanaians, even African Americans who have purchased properties in Ghana, who are willing to invest in Ghana in the hospitality industry, in the entertainment industry.
On Pan African Tourism, Iddi explained: “This Pan African Tourism is the way to go it will help us to focus and promote Africa as a beautiful continent with a beautiful culture, with a beautiful people, our reception is so unique compared to other continents. African people are more receptive to strangers and that is what tourism is all about. People who have come to visit us, the feel welcome, fell at home and the get feel of our culture, our environment, our heritage and everything unique about Africa.
Ghana is so big in eco-tourism, heritage tourism, big in resort, beaches, we have about 500 mass stretch of coast line that we are developing and we invite people to come and we have a project that we are developing, we call it Marine Drive Project we are inviting people to come and invest so that we can develop our beach experience
On his impression of this year’s Akwaaba African Travel Market, he said,” It is exciting being here at Akwaaba, am so impressed about the organisation. We have participated in the event over the years, but this year is more impressive, Ghana has had a good relationship with Ikechi and his team.
“I have been to so many international tourism fairs, I can say this is one of the biggest, this can match the ITB, the FITUR and all those that you have there in Europe, so when I walked in I was very impressed about the set up, I was impressed about the attendance, I was actually impressed to see Dubai, I thought it was a West African thing, you see Kenya, Uganda, people from the Caribbean all coming here to attend and promote their tourism, is a good thing, we in Ghana a trying to promote what we call Pan African tourism and I have been talking to a lot of tour operators so that we get people visit Africa, they can have multiple experience, they can come to Nigeria experience Nigeria, come to Ghana experience Ghana, go to Senegal, experience Senegal and maybe proceed to South Africa and experience South Africa.