With support from the World Bank, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, in continuation of the celebrations of UN World Tourism Day on the 19th and 20th December,2022 commenced regional discussions on Tourism for Peace. The theme for this year’s celebration was “Rethinking Tourism” which was domesticated as “the impact of violence and conflict on tourism”. The events were held at Paloma Hotel Hall in Kenema and Bo Inn Hotel Hall in Bo respectively.
September 27 is commemorated by all member states of the UN as World Tourism Day, in continuation of the series of events organized nationwide that geared towards raising awareness on the need for peaceful coexistence and to prevent a reoccurrence of the ugly incidents of August 10, August, 2022. The Ministry thought it prudent to engage the youths, women, traditional leaders and the general public on the impact of conflict on tourism and other businesses.
Opening the sessions, the Permanent Secretary, Edward Kwame Yankson said they were excited to hold the discussions in the provinces to raise awareness in preventing the ugly happenings of August 10 which he said impacted the country negatively. He explained that one of the mandates of the Tourism sector is to rebrand the country’s image internationally and lure visitors to come to Sierra Leone, but painting a bad image of the country as in the case of the August 10 incident will hinder the gains made, hence they are having the nationwide discussions on peace for tourism.
In his welcome statements, Paramount Chief Lappia Boima of Bo District applauded the Ministry for the visible strides and initiatives in giving Sierra Leone’s tourism the correct flavour. He said bringing discussions like this to the provinces is timely and looked forward to a fruitful deliberation to raising awareness on the need for peace at all times.
The Director of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh said the observance of the World Tourism Day was to recognize the contribution of the sector to the socio-economic development of different economies in the world and to also recognize the historical, natural and cultural universal values of the heritage sites. He continued that for Sierra Leone, they centred this year’s celebrations on peace as a prerequisite for tourism development. He explained the essence of peace and it importance on tourism on a destination and how projecting bad images of the country will shy away visitors and investors from the destination. He highlighted the successes of the Ministry as per the New Direction manifesto and many other gains made by the sector.
In her keynote address, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt intimated that the successes of the Ministry over the past few years were made possible because of peace. She reiterated that peace is a prerequisite for tourism as no tourist will come to a country that has no peace and appealed to all citizens to always keep the peace as there are many remedies to settle conflicts. She added that as they draw closer to the general elections, there should be peaceful coexistence to consolidate the developmental strides of the nation. She pinpointed the root tourism programme of the Ministry, the Budapest Rally and the upcoming AfriCaribbean festival as laudable achievement that require peace. She encouraged Sierra Leoneans to maintain the peace and obey the rule of law.
Districts representatives, officials from the councils, Civil Society Organisations, the security sector, Bike Riders Association and Hotel Associations made relevant inputs on the discussions. Interactive and participatory high-level panel discussions on the impact of conflict on tourism and other businesses wrapped up the sessions.
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