The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has endorsed 183 events as part of the ‘Beyond the Return’, and ‘December in GH’ programmes.
This means that the events have met requirements set by GTA and reviewed by a committee to ensure that they are well-resourced, can organise the event in a safe environment and also pull off the event successfully.
“By endorsing them, we are putting the full weight of the state behind them and letting the public know that the events have been looked at very well.
“This is in terms of security, the resourcefulness of the organisers and their ability to pull off the event,” the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GTA, Akwasi Agyeman, said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
The endorsements for this year are a huge jump from 122 endorsed events last year.
Ranging from traditional festivals, musical concerts, gospel events, symposiums, workshops and tours across different genres, the events will be organised across the country although the bulk of them will be in Accra.
Some of the headline events include Afrofuture, Taste of Ghana, Little Havana in Aburi, Ashantifest, Westside Carnival in Tarkoradi and Edina Bronya in Elmina.
The rest are the Culture One Festival in the northern part of the country, Saminifest in the Ashanti Region, Bhim Concert, Rapperholic and GUBA Cruise in Akosombo.
Mr Agyeman explained that Afrochella, one of the biggest events on the list, had been re-branded as Afrofuture and would be happening on December 28 and 29.
He said business events and investment programmes, such as the Diaspora Investment Programme, and Women Empowerment and Investment, would be held on December 26 at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park.
Also, he indicated that the GTA, in conjunction with Ghana Exim Bank, the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited, the Ghana Airports Company Limited and the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, had created an Akwaaba Village located at the airport to allow visitors coming into the country to have a one-stop shop for Ghanaian culture and arts.
Mr Agyemang explained that the country was pushing to have about 115,000 people arrive in the country for the “December in GH” programmes compared to 108,000 received last December.
He added that the country was generally looking at 1.2 million international arrivals this year, more than a 30 per cent jump from 2022.
“Last year, we ended the year around 117,000 so we are pushing ourselves to get 1.2 million to be at par with the numbers we got in 2019, which was our record year.
“Our intention is that this year should be the year that we get to the pre-pandemic levels; because before COVID-19, we did 1.18 million arrivals in 2019, dropped to 350,000 in 2020, 650,000 in 2021 and 900,000 last year and this year we want to go to 1.2 million,” the GTA boss said.
To achieve that, the GTA CEO said, the authority was, among others, working on visas on arrival, extensively marketing events such as Ghana Week in DC and making sure that Ghana was the top-of-mind in the source market.
Mr Agyemang said that adequate preparation for accommodation and transportation had been made, stating the availability of other forms of accommodation such as AirBNB, private homes and some visitors staying with family and friends.
For security, he said the teams had done so much work with the national security and the Ghana Police Service to ensure that all the events were happening within a safe environment.
“The police have had about three different engagements with event organisers. We have also had an engagement with hoteliers in terms of pricing to ensure that their rates are competitive and not overly expensive.
We have also engaged with the airlines to find ways that the airfares coming into Ghana are competitive because whether we like it or not this is beginning to become a very competitive activity,” he added.