Pans are on course for the enactment of a Homeland Return Act next year, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, has said.
Taking her turn at a Meet-the-Press series in Accra last Wednesday, she said consultative meetings towards the preparation of the bill had started and that the act would include legal and regulatory processes for integrating Africans in the diaspora into the Ghanaian society.
According to her, the act would also recognise the country’s moral and spiritual obligation as an African nation in facilitating the return of diasporan Africans and would remove impediments in the acquisition of residence or citizenship by descendants of Africans who were enslaved and children of Ghanaians living in the diaspora.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi also mentioned a $4 million facility for the development of tourism sites and information centres across the country, and a $5 million grant to support tourism and hospitality enterprises as some of the short and long-term measures put in place by the government for the development of the industry.
“In May, the government announced a GH₵600 million COVID-19 stimulus package for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) including those in the tourism sector. There is also an allocation of GH₵50 million to creative arts and the media,” she added.
The minister also said a Tourism, Heritage and Culture Development Fund was being reviewed for onward submission to Cabinet for consideration to provide financial assistance in the promotion of heritage and cultural activities in the country.
Beyond Year of Return
Following the successful implementation of the Year of Return (YOR) in 2019, she said a ‘Beyond the Return’ project to build on the positive impact of the former had also been launched.
The initiative is aimed primarily at spurring the social and economic development of the nation by rebranding Ghana on the international scene.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said the Beyond the Year initiative would also create a sense of national consciousness anchored on key cultural festivals, media programmes, adoption of contemporary festivals onto the national calendar to promote domestic tourism.
“It will also help in the adoption of a legal and policy framework on visa acquisition (e-visa), the institution of a diaspora visa and promotion of Ghana as a leading tourism destination and a hub of African renaissance,” she said.
The minister said the government recognised the pivotal role culture, tourism and the creative industry played in the social and economic development of the country.
She said it was as a result of this that the government intended to introduce some projects, including an Art City initiative, to promote the unique culture and heritage of Ghana through art, especially paintings, to beautify the city by turning walls of public buildings into colourful images.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi further affirmed the government’s commitment towards the development of the industry through collaborations with stakeholders to make Ghana the preferred tourism destination in the sub-region.