March 2, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
In a bid to transform the tourism industry into a viable sector and in line with international standards, stakeholders last Thursday (26 February) validated the draft National Tourism Policy at Shangri-La along Beach Road in Aberdeen, Freetown.
Special Adviser to President Ernest Bai Koroma, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, said at the event that tourism was among four ministries identified by Cabinet to work in rebranding the country’s image. He also stressed the importance of having a policy framework for the development of the sector as it would better position the country to attract tourists from abroad.
According to him, countries such as Cape Verde and Mauritius do not have minerals but generate millions out of their tourism industry.
“We can look at our legacy as we have never marketed our legacy. All what people are saying [is that] Bunce Island is our history without selling it out. Senegal is making money out of Gori Island as local and foreign tourists visit on a regular basis, whereas in Sierra Leone, one hardly hear people talking about visiting Tiwai Island and other historic sites around the country,” Alhaji Ben Kargbo said.
Also, acting Minster of Tourism, Kadijatu Seissay, maintained that Sierra Leone is endowed with unique and diverse natural, cultural and historical attractions that would attract tourists if they are well developed and harnessed.
She maintained that the absence of a National Tourism Policy to guide the orderly development of the sector in a sustainable manner had caused impediments to achieving an effective and successful tourism industry.
“The ministry as a multi-sectoral will not succeed without the support and cooperation of its stakeholders in facilitating our work. It is my hope that at the end of this validation exercise, a vibrant National Tourism Policy will be formulated that will stand the test of time in developing the industry for national development,” she noted.