By Ishmael Dumbuya
The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, with support from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), has in a two-day stakeholder consultative meeting, validated the review of the development of the Tourism Act 1990 at Njala Venue, Lumley Beach Road, Freetown.
In an interview with Radio Democracy ‘Gud Morning Salone Program yesterday, the Minister of Tourism, Memunatu Pratt applauded all stakeholders and participants for being part of the validation process, saying that they will form part of their database going forward.
She appreciated the EIF for supporting the process, emphasizing that the Act will be the national legal framework for tourism in Sierra Leone that puts tourism at the center of national development.
She went on to disclose that with the new Act, they would no longer struggle to make a case for access to roads to the beaches, water supply to their facilities, and other bottlenecks they are facing.
She added that the validation process was the semi-final product of their stewardship to President Bio in making tourism a growth sector.
She further stated that the aim of the Bill was about consolidating their work and ensuring that they have an Act that speaks to it.
Dr. Pratt said that they conducted extensive research work on all the relevant laws in Sierra Leone that have connection to tourism, undertook a tourism census with Statistic Sierra Leone; hence the exercise was driven by data.
The primary goals of the review were to empower the Ministry and its constituent bodies, create employment opportunities, seek the well-being of Sierra Leoneans, ensure that all natural, cultural and historical heritage, national parks, monuments and relics sites are responsive to tourism growth, support the establishment of Tourism Circuit Zones and maintain international standard of excellence. She maintained
In the amendment document, the bill emphasizes strong public private partnership with the Hotel Association, gender mainstreaming, agriculture, transport and the creation of functional institutions with clearly defined roles and responsibilities among others. The validated document when enacted into law will become a holistic National Tourism Act 2023.
She ended on the note that the current act which will be 33 years old this year does not make mention words like E. Tourism, digital platforms, climate change, gender mainstreaming, sustainability, roots tourism and crisis management issues.
She mentioned in the interview that the development of the Tourism Act 1990 was formulated and enacted to establish the National Tourist Board.
Key institutions pertaining to the tourism and hospitality industry were left out with detrimental impact resulting to confusion, overlap of functions and weakening of the sector to strategically position itself.
The review of the development of the tourism act focuses to achieve increased opportunity for Sierra Leoneans, provision of attractive support for SME’s, digitalization of the sector, mainstreaming of gender and youth among others.