Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, has stated that the tourism sector as a result of the 'Year of Return' initiative has recorded US$3.312 billion in revenue.
"Mr Speaker, by the end of the year , international arrivals reached 1.13 million from 956,372 in 2018; [representing] a 27 per cent growth which was above the global average of five per cent.
"The average expenditure per tourist increased from US$2,708 in 2018 to US$2,931 in 2019.
"The receipt attributed to tourism is therefore US$3.312 billion," Mrs Oteng-Gyasi, the Member of Parliament for Prestea/Huni-Valley indicated in Parliament in Accra yesterday.
She was responding to a question asked by North Tongu Member, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa who sought to know the volume of visitors associated with the Year of Return initiative and its estimated economic impact on the country in the year 2019.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said the increased number of travellers to Ghana positively impacted private sector industries including airline companies, hotels, tour operators, restaurants, arts and craft dealers.
As result of the arrivals, she said several hotels in December announced 100 per cent occupancy in the month of December with arts centre merchants doubling their sales.
"In terms of expenditure areas, accommodation, at 41 per cent, was the highest area of expenditure, followed by food and beverages at 21 per cent, shopping at 14 per cent, local transportation at eight per cent, entertainment at five per cent and other spending at 11 per cent."
Ghana, she reported, became the beacon of the new narrative and was hailed by many as showing leadership leading to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo being honoured by the African Union for the initiative.
During the period, she told the House that 126 diasporans were granted Ghanaian citizenship.
In addition to the economic impact, social such as schools, boreholes, and ICT centres in some selected communities across the countries have become legacies of the year of return, she said.
The minister estimated the media mileage to be in the millions of the U.S dollars with both local and international media organisations dedicating editorial spaces to the initiative.
"Me Speaker, the advertising value equivalence is estimated at US$3.5 million.
"The coverage on the year of return has changed the narrative about Africa and branded Ghana as the gateway to Africa and one of the top tourism and repatriation destinations in the world," she stated.
To build on the success of the Year of Return, Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said 'Beyond the Return' a follow up initiative as initiated would be pursued to boost Ghana's tourism industry.