The Tourism Ministry has launched the United Nations (UN) World Tourism Day Celebration with the theme: “Tourism Inclusive Growth in Attaining the SDGs and Agenda 2030 in Post COVID-19 Era” at the Ministry’s Head Office on Kingharman Road in Freetown on the 2nd September, 2021. The launch was done with the Ministry’s sub-vented agencies, the National Tourist Board (NTB) and the Monument and Relics Commission (MRC).
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Andrew L. Sorie said that it is the time of the year when the tourism family meet to reflect on services delivered, celebrate achievements and declare plans for the programmes to be accomplished, saying that the sector has a whole month to accomplish these three broad generalities.
He stated that despite COVID-19 ravaging economies the world over, Sierra Leone still has to celebrate because the nation survived generally and specifically tourism as a sector broke new grounds in showcasing its potentials.
In his contribution, the Director of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh, disclosed that World Tourism Day is celebrated on the 27th September and is the global observance day set aside to foster awareness of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic values and the contributions that the sector can make towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
He pointed out that since 2018, the Ministry and its agencies and stakeholders have consistently been organizing the celebration of the World Tourism Day in an effort to raise awareness of tourism’s contribution to livelihood, job creation, quality of lives of members of host communities, protection of the environment and revenue generation for Government.
It must be noted that this year’s observance of the World Tourism Day will be marked by the organizations of regional dialogues using the occasion to recognize the role tourism plays in their respective fields, from fair trade and climate action to gender equality, indigenous rights and opportunities for youth.
These, according to the Director, are pillars of most if not all the SDG’s, particularly Goals 1 (no poverty), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 10 (reduce inequalities) and most importantly, the theme will provide an opportunity to promote tourism’s role in inclusive growth and identify how further progress can be made.
In her keynote address, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt said that tourism has proven to be a driver for many countries globally saying that Sierra Leoneans home and abroad are appreciating the strides that has happened in tourism three years on while appreciating the political will and leadership of President Bio’s Government in prioritizing the sector.
She said there is much differences in the sector today to how it was before as evident in the development of beaches, opening of new sites and the many reforms to name a few. She noted that the industry has catapulted itself to a better industry that is now contending with grade A industries and has contributed to over 4% of the economy before the outbreak of COVID-19.
She stated that the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in recognition of the propensity of positive contributions of the tourism sector towards achieving the SDGs, Sierra Leone set its theme as Tourism Inclusive Growth in Attaining the SDGs and Agenda 2030 in Post Covid-19 Era.
She mentioned the devastating effect COVID-19 has had on the sector, but that notwithstanding, the sector is celebrating the World Tourism Day with a host of activities with an involving theme that will take the conversation to another level to get people to know the importance of the sector and the SDGs in achieving agenda 2030. She commended the UNDP’s GEF Project for successively supporting the Ministry and its agencies in commemorating the World Tourism Day.
Furthermore, she appealed to all Sierra Leoneans to take the COVID vaccine noting that the country will be extremely limited if the number of people vaccinated is low the higher the percentage of people vaccinated, the maintaining that the Budapest-Bamako Finish Line will take place if a good number of Sierra Leoneans are vaccinated.
The Chairman of NTB, Allieu Kokobay, the Principal of MMCETL/HTTC Brookfield’s Campus, Phillip Kanu, Deputy Chairman, Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Tourism and Culture, Emmanuel S. Turay, representatives from the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Environment, the hotel association and the Special Envoy for Entertainment & Investment, Amara Dennis Turay, (Kao Denero) all made statements towards the launch of the celebration of the UN World Tourism Day.