Ablakwa doubts Tourism Minister’s $3.3B Year of Return revenue claim

The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is questioning figures from the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture on the money that entered the Ghanaian economy from the Year of Return initiative.

In response to questions in Parliament on Thursday, the sector Minister, Barbara Oteng Gyasi indicated that an amount of US$3.3 billion had been realized from the Year of Return initiative based on increased travel volumes and spending but the North Tongu MP believes the figures are questionable.

He indicated on Eyewitness News that, “We are not vigorous with the data. We are just all over the place and you say that on the average, the tourists have spent US$2,931 and yet you’re multiplying that by the global sum of 1.13 million. All those who travelled in 2019 including MPs, traders, journalists, etc, you’ve lumped all that figure and you’re telling us that this is the gains from the year abroad.”

“So honestly, the Minister will have to come back to Parliament. I am not impressed with the response to my question. Ministers have to be thorough. We need to take data seriously so that we can plan. A very laudable initiative and yet, we don’t seem to have captured any credible data that we can work with. This is really unfortunate,” he said.

 

 

Background

The Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi had earlier said the Year of Return initiative raked in tourism receipts amounting to US$3.3 billion.

According to her, the average expenditure per tourist was US$2,391. She said the amount was spent in areas such as accommodation, food, and beverages, shopping, local transport, and entertainment.

The Minister further noted that the government intends to build upon the success of the Year of Return initiative.

“By the end of 2019, the international arrivals reached 1.13 million from 956,372 in the year 2018 which was 27% growth which was above the global average of 5%. The average expenditure per tourist increased from US$2,708 in 2018 to US$2,931 in 2019. The receipts attributed to tourism is, therefore, US$3.312 billion. The increased number of travellers to Ghana positively impacted five sector industries such as airlines, hotels, tour operators, restaurants, and arts and craft dealers to name a few,” she said.

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