Memunatu Pratt takes Tourism to Another Level

1490
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt

By Amin Kef Sesay

It has been well established that tourism is a major driver of economic development as it has the potential of generating the much needed revenue which Government requires to undertake various development programmes. The tourism sector in this country suffered a major setback as a result of the outbreak of the 11 year senseless war that affected every facet of life in the country. Besides, those in authoritative positions who should have positively influenced the sector to make it more relevant to the country’s development failed to do so effectively for one reason or the other leaving such an important area to deteriorate over time. However, today it is a different story as we have started to see positive signs of growth within that sector which if maintained, developed and sustained will bring forth fruitful dividends.

The proactive Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt, has vividly demonstrated the dogged determination to rebrand the tourism sector in the country. Since she was appointed by President Julius Maada Bio as Minister of Tourism she has proven her mettle even to the consternation of her former critics.

Due to commitment, patriotism and hard work she has been able to turn around a once moribund sector to one that is thriving.  Evident in her selfless service to man and country there is presently 300 tourists from Denmark. The share number of the tourists is very amazing reminiscent of the 80s when tourism was at its peak. Many have attributed this to the continuous marketing and rebranding process of the country’s touristic potentials by the Minister, other officials of the Ministry and the National Tourist Board.

Prior to this recent development other major achievements which could be attributed to the Minister’s tireless efforts include but not limited to:

  1. The launch of the Enhanced Integrated Tourism Framework Project.

Recently the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs launched the Enhanced Integrated Tourism Framework a project that is a Trade-Related Assistance for Least Developed Countries with the objective of supporting these countries to better integrate into the global trading system and to make trade a driver for development of countries, one of which is Sierra Leone. According to the project aims and objectives: Sierra Leone met the bench marks as indicated that all EIF Countries that have finalized and validated the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) and its Action Matrix are eligible for Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Trust Fund (TF) funding for the Tier 2 project. Sierra Leone amongst many other countries was one that qualified to commence Tier 2 which is aimed at assisting in the implementation of priority projects identified in the DTIS Action Matrix.

  1. The launch of the first National Tourism Census Report

On Monday 13 January 2020, the Ministry in collaboration with Statistics Sierra Leone also launched the first National Tourism Census Report, an event that took place at the Miatta Conference Hall at Brookfields in Freetown. The launch of the National Tourism Census will help the Ministry to physically map out the country’s tourism master plan through geospatial data in order to know what are available in the country which will provide the fundamental basis for the initialization of tourism development and promotion in any country.

During her statement the Ministry stated how this is the first time, since the aftermath of the civil conflict in Sierra Leone, that a comprehensive census of tourism, cultural sites and related establishments was undertaken, noting that such has provided an insight and understanding of the vast array of the natural, cultural and historical resources of the country furthering how the census effectively identified all touristic and cultural assets as well as establishments in the country.

  1. Hosting of the Freetown Forum on Women Entrepreneurship on Tourism

In order to celebrate women’s empowerment through Tourism Entrepreneurship and enhance the development of women in the tourism sector in Sierra Leone the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in partnership with the World Bank, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Thursday 28th November, 2019 hosted the Freetown Forum on Women Entrepreneurship on Tourism at Bintumani Conference Centre Freetown.

Participants witness the first ever Freetown Forum on Women’s Empowerment in Tourism for Sierra Leone which opened the space that Tourism is a tool to empower women in various aspects and how it has the potential to assist women acquire increasing power and control over national, natural and cultural resources through economic, educational and political empowerment.

Dr. Memunatu Pratt in delivering her statement at the event stated that the purpose of the event is to enhance and continue to build on the institutional strategies and activities of their work in mainstreaming gender and promoting gender parity, addressing gender stereotyping, poor education and skills, leadership and disparity between men and women in accessing capital, financial inclusion and decent work in the tourism sector. She added that this also builds on the two fundamental frameworks of Women in Development, Women and Development and the existing Gender and Development frameworks

She noted that promoting gender equality and women empowerment in tourism matters for two reasons: firstly, the Government of Sierra Leone and international organizations are committed to it through the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and secondly, the implementation of the strategic actions of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals.

  1. Hosted a Public Lecture on the theme: “Sustainable Destination Development and Management for Sierra Leone”

The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the National Tourist Board, on Wednesday 14th August 2019, hosted a renowned Tourism Researcher, Prof. Fergus Maclaren, Principal at MAC-DUFF Tourism, Heritage and Planning, Ottawa, Canada on a public lecture on the theme ‘Sustainable Destination Development and Management for Sierra Leone’ geared towards improving the promotion and marketing of Sierra Leone as an attractive tourist destination, at the Bintumani Hotel Aberdeen.

Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt, said that Prof. Fergus Maclaren’s public lecture will help improve the tourism sector in the country. Amidst the challenges inherited, she maintained that the Government rates Tourism as one of the top priorities alongside agriculture and fisheries, adding that the President is passionate about tourism and wants to see the industry revamped and serve as a boost to the economy of the country.

“Over the years the focus of Sierra Leone has been on mining of diamonds and gold. Yes, we accept that we are having revenue from those sectors, but we have found out that the Tourism sector should have been one of the areas that could have responded to things like youth unemployment, skills development, private sector development, trade and investment and developing our basic culture of patriotism and national cohesion. These are the things we have realized,” she added. She also pointed out that they are going to work with the private sector to rebrand the country’s tourism sector.

  1. Launch of Visa on Arrival

During the visit of the renowned tourism Researcher, Prof. Fergus Maclaren, Principal at MAC-DUFF Tourism, Heritage and Planning, Ottawa, Canada he disclosed that access to Lungi International Airport is one of the big challenges faced by the tourism sector in the country.

The Minister, out of her wisdom was able to lobby with other stakeholders in order to launch the Visa on Arrival which has today opened up space for direct foreign investment in the country.

This medium was informed that in March 2020 about 250 thousand tourists will jet into the country which again will bring about attendant benefits for the nation in diverse ways.

Without any form of exaggeration it is very certain that with the commitment and passion so far demonstrated to make the Tourism sector really meaningful to the country the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt has proven that she is indeed very capable, enthusiastic to resuscitate a very important aspect of the country’s economy and if sustained the more the merrier.

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here