Ghana lies on the coast of gold looking into the Atlantic Ocean. An African nation that has blazed the trail for stable democratic governance, becoming the shining star of the continent.
For its unique geographic position and historical heritage, the country is easily identified as the gateway of Africa on many fronts – tourism, investments, economic growth among others.
The country’s economic growth is not complete without tourism. Ghana boasts of sustainable tourism avenues including – cultural tourism, heritage tourism, recreational tourism, adventure tourism and events tourism.
In December each year, Christmas, just like in any other country, has been buzzing. But in 2019 when the Government of Ghana elevated the festive season through a deliberate tourism policy campaign known as the Year of Return, Ghana has become the favourite destination for tourists every Christmas. The whole world literally comes to Ghana.
From global celebrities, iconic personalities to family and friends, Ghana has become the world’s destination for Christmas and New Year celebrations making it the go-to epicentre for urban entertainment. Celebrity visitors included supermodel Naomi Campbell, actor and humanitarian Idris Elba, actors Boris Kodjoe and Michael Jai White, musicians Cardi B and Akon, among others.
“The Year of Return put Ghana on the map because it created a lot of awareness for the country,” said Akwasi Agyeman, CEO, Ghana Tourism Authority during a YFM Twitter Spaces conversation on the topic “Ghana as the world’s destination for Christmas”
Year of Return became a huge success. There were much content for revelers to enjoy – from Festivals such as AfroNation, Afrochella to Concerts such as Detty Rave, December2Remember (D2R), Akwaaba UK, Tribal Jungle Fever to Fashion Shows, Diaspora activities to Theme Parties such as Pine & Ginja, and many more.
Ever since Year of Return kicked in, Ghana has never looked back in leveraging the gains to position the country to be the home of people of African-descent and other none-Ghanaians.
“It’s been a gradual build up in Ghana being recognised for that position. It is a testament of how blessed we are as a country. If you look at our population size, our level of development and even our output, we are much above our weight in every sense of the word. Because there are certainly richer, bigger neighbors (other African countries) that could outspend us,” said Ruddy Kwakye, Executive Producer of AfroNation Ghana and CEO of Rave Media Group.
In keeping up with the momentum, the Ghana government through the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) is leading with “Beyond the Return” initiative which according to Mr. Akwasi Agyeman, is a follow-up to the successful Year Of Return.
“Beyond The Return tends to look at sustaining the momentum. It is a 10-year project built on seven pillars – Experience Ghana, Invest in Ghana, Diaspora Pathway to Ghana, Celebrate Ghana, Brand Ghana, Give Back Ghana and Promote Pan-African Heritage and Innovation.”
This year’s Christmas is estimated to attract about 150,000 tourists, mostly from America, UK, the Caribbean, Germany, China, The Netherlands among others.
The diaspora has been a big part of Ghana’s Christmas. Lakesha Ford, a Jamaican living and running her business in Ghana, indicated that that there has been a current trend where people of African-descent in the western world are coming back home as compared to years when they never returned.
“People talk a lot about the brain drain. A lot of times we would leave our country, go to the US or the UK for school and then you know we wouldn’t hear about our people coming back home. But we’re starting to see not brain drain but more of a brain gain where diasporans and even people who originate from the continent are coming back.”
“We are gradually building a cultural connection which goes to show how much we have grown. Cultural connection to Africa is one of the anchors for a lot of people who intend to visit Ghana this Christmas” said Lakesha Ford, CEO of Ford Communications and Co-Founder of Pine X Ginga, a Jamaican-themed party organized every December in Ghana.
According to Ruddy Kwakye, there’s a number of influential voices across the world who are planning to come home (Ghana) this Christmas. “It is more than just fun for them. We have to see beyond the fun aspect of this season. This is transactional and economical”.
A big component of this year’s Christmas is creative arts and entertainment or better still events tourism. It is what will keep tourists and locals excited.
Already, several events have been announced with tickets going up for sale. One of such events is Wildaland Festival – a two-day music festival inside the Shai Forest Reserve. Its Co-Founder, Sadiq Abdulai Abu says they want to give patrons of the event a distinct entertainment experience that is unforgettable.
“There has been a number of people looking to have experiences outside Accra. Therefore, it is important that we come up with something quite different and unique. Hence, the Wildaland experience. Wildaland Festival is a distinct entertainment experience seeking to create an opportunity to be unique”
Wildaland is expected to some of the top African and Ghanaian music acts performing.
Aside Wildaland, other events such as Afrochella, Akwaaba UK Events, Pine & Ginja, Tribal Jungle Fever, Gold Coast Carnival and a host of other events have been lined up for the Christmas with some even starting as early as December 1st.
The GTA is hopeful that this year’s Christmas will open up the events industry which was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are very hopeful for this Christmas. We want to use this Christmas to open the event space. We are trying hard to throw more light on local events during the holiday season,” Akwasi Agyeman noted.
YFM, Ghana’s number one urban radio and leading music station has launched a new initiative “Y Holiday Havoc” to support key events and activities in curating unforgettable memories for revelers during this year’s festive season.
Through the Y Holiday Havoc, YFM has announced a number of partnerships with major festivals, concerts and parties where the media outlet is supporting with marketing, promotions, ticket sales and On-Air Talents – Presenters and DJs to unlock memorable experiences of every activity during the festive season.
By Ekow Quandzie