The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi on Wednesday launched the 2019 ‘Year of Return’ cloth.
The Minister unveiled the cloth at the third edition of the Ghana Diaspora Celebration and Homecoming summit, 2019, which is part of activities earmarked for the celebration of the “Year of Return”, in Accra.
She said the event was being held at a time when the country was in the spotlight for the right reasons for welcoming the global African community.
She said the ‘Year of Return’ which was proclaimed by the President, last year commemorates 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in the USA and celebrates the resilience of the African spirit.
The Minister said the year-long activity, which is spearheaded by the Ghana Tourism Authority, is a concerted public private effort with stakeholders like the Diaspora Affairs Office at the Presidency, the Manifest Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Adinkra group.
She said since its launch the ‘Year of Return’ had endorsed over 78 events for a yearlong celebration and commemoration, saying the Ghana Diaspora celebration and home coming summit, one of the pillar activities of the year of return, comes at a time when the potential landscape of opportunities in the country is growing.
Mrs Oteng Gyasi said despite being away many Ghanaians continue to invest in the country through remittances, starting businesses and donations to organization.
She said in tourism, while the Ghanaian Diaspora was an important part of inbound market, the key role the Ghanaian Diaspora play in job creation across the tourism value chain cannot be underestimated.
“Many hotels, guesthouses, hostels, restaurants, sites and attractions, are either owned or managed by the Ghanaian Diaspora.”
She said in this ‘Year of return’ we are keen to closely engage the second and third Ghanaian generation, the bulk of whom have never visited Ghana to look at Ghana as their holiday destination and a country of new frontiers and opportunities.”
She commended the Diaspora home coming committee for spearheading the event which has become a flagship for engaging the Diaspora outside of Ghana.
“Ghanaians have travelled far and wide and everywhere they have been, they have not only made their mark, but continue to make a significant impact here at home.”
Two years ago, the summit saw over 2000 delegates in attendance to network and build new relations that created stronger ties to Ghana, and many left the conference with a renewed sense of direction on how they could contribute to Ghana’s growth, she said.
She urged them to look at Ghana as an investment option and use the time as an opportunity to network, engage and form solid relationships that would help them contribute to the building of the country.
Mr Akwasi Awuah Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs at the Presidency, said the ‘Year of Return’ is a step in exploring the rich Ghanaian heritage and economic opportunities in the country and the celebration builds on the previous ones especially the 2017 event.
Mr Ababio said it is an event rallying Ghanaians living abroad to dialogue, network and explore economic and investment opportunities in the country in furtherance of the President’s agenda of Ghana beyond Aid.
He said the aim of this third summit was to highlight and celebrate the various achievements of the Diaspora towards Ghana’s development
He said government was fully aware of the difficulties many compatriots living abroad face when they return home, saying there is the need for Ghana to have a Diaspora engagement policy that would enable the Diaspora to be engaged.
Mr Ababio said the four day submit was to celebrate the immense contribution that the Ghanaian Diaspora have made and the sessions of the summit would highlight on the past and the present action of the Diaspora and the future opportunities of working together to build Ghana.
He assured the Diaspora community that the Diaspora Affairs Office was committed to support them continuously as they contribute in diverse ways towards Ghana’s development.