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The Importance of Heritage in Ghana’s Tourism Offerings

The 2019 Year of Return, when Ghana welcomed Africans in the diaspora to participate in events associated with the country’s rich cultural heritage, was an opportunity to learn more about what tourists want. One million foreign visitors entered the country to mark 400 years of the first enslaved Africans arriving in the United States. The event reaffirmed Ghana’s prominence in heritage tourism and the importance of tourism to its economy. The sector is one of the main socio-economic drivers of Ghana’s foreign income and job creation. It also stimulates the growth of other industries. Tourism contributed 6.2% of Ghana’s GDP in 2017 and is the fourth highest income earner for Ghana after gold, cocoa and oil. Ghana has several museums across the country. Among them are the National Museum and Museum of Science and Technology in Accra, Volta Regional Museum, Cape Coast Castle Museum, Upper East Regional Museum in Bolgatanga, St George’s Castle (Elmina Castle) Museum, and Fort Apollonia Museum of Nzema Culture and History. In 2018, these museums received thousands of visitors with the Cape Coast and Elmina castles being the most popular. The National Museum, which contains artefacts, cultural objects and Ghanaian artists’ paintings. The National Museum is the largest and oldest museum in Ghana. Built in 1975, it is a leading heritage tourism destination particularly for African-Americans who trace their family roots to Ghana.