Host of Metro TV’s morning show, ‘Good morning Ghana’, Randy Abbey has cast doubt over government’s claim that its tourism programme ‘Year of Return, generated $1.9bn.
“If anybody confirms that we made $1.9billion from the ‘Year of Return’ I will resign from hosting ‘Good morning Ghana’, it is not possible” he said on his show Thursday.
Randy Abbey joins Ghanaian tech innovator and globally acclaimed entrepreneur Bright Simmons who has also questioned the credibility of the figures churned out.
On December 16, 2019, the state-owned Daily Graphic reported that a “total of $1.9 billion has been generated into the economy through activities related to the ‘Year of Return’.
The source of Daily Graphic’s story was the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi. She was quoted in the story as saying the “Year of Return” programme had also brought about an increase of over 200,000 in total arrivals into the country.
But according to Abbey, the figure as presented by government can only be described as dubious.
“For the life of me and with the very very little education my parents gave me, I cannot accept that $1.9 billion has come into this economy on the basis of just ‘Year of Return’, do we know what $1.9billion is?” he quizzed.
While acknowledging the success of the initiative and its feat, Abbey questioned how $1.9billion would be realized from the initiative yet the Ghana government would request exact amount from the Chinese government as loan.
“The same amount which we claim we are going to get from the Chinese government which is a game changer for the Ghanaian economy, this is dubious validity” he fumed.
Another person who has had difficulty in accepting the $1.9billion figure is Vice President of IMANI Africa, Bright Simons.
According to Mr. Simons, the government has projected the number of foreign visitors to Ghana in 2019 as one million people, and even if the projection is met, the “Year of Return” figures will still not be accurate.
“As at last count, 750,000 international visitors had made their way to Ghana in 2019. The Authorities are projecting total arrivals for the year to hit 1 million. This is however doubtful considering the proximity to year-end.
“But even if the numbers do hit 1 million, that would only mean a tiny fraction more than the 984,250 visitors who showed up in 2018, in fact a mere 15,000 more,” Bright Simons wrote.
“According to Ministry of Finance computations, average spending per tourist was $1512 in 2014, rising to roughly $1800 in 2018. Let’s pad this to $2000; though with Cedi exchange rate depreciation outstripping inflation, foreigners should actually find Ghana about 5% cheaper than last year and might spend less.
Be that as it may, the “extra spending” that could conceivably be attributed to an increase in arrivals due to the Year of Return (if the projected 1 million visitors estimate holds up) would amount to about $30 million in this scenario”.
“By what conceivable mechanism can a $30 million optimistic projection mutate into $1.9 billion?” Bright Simons asked.