Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2020:
Following recent spate of violence and lawlessness across various parts of Sierra Leone, president Julius Maada Bio responded with a speech – accusing opposition politicians of terrorism and inciting violence.
Many feared the president’s speech could have unduly portrayed Sierra Leone as a country that is unsafe for foreign investments and tourism in particular. Did the president shoot himself in the foot?
Yesterday, in a damage limitation exercise, the country’s National Tourist Board issued a statement in an attempt to correct what it says is an “erroneous report about Sierra Leone” published in a Global tourism guide – ‘Travel Safe Abroad’.
This is what the National Tourist Board said:
“The attention of the National Tourist Board, Sierra Leone, has been drawn to a misleading assessment report of the country on a travel advisory blog – ‘Travel Safe Abroad’.
“The Sierra Leone Tourism Board wishes it to be known that… that report is incorrect, erroneous, misleading and a total misrepresentation of what currently obtains in Sierra Leone.
“Such reports have the tendency of undermining the gains already made in the Sierra Leone tourism sector and has the propensity to scare away potential tourists and investors to destination Sierra Leone. Such fabrication is nothing but a figment of the writer’s imagination.
“We call on the operators of that blog to immediately take-down that fallacious report and send researchers/reporters to do a proper assessment and situation report that portrays the present circumstances. (After COVID-19 when travel restrictions would have been eased.)
“We are appalled that at a time when the Ministry of Tourism and its National Tourism Board is making inroads in re-branding the country, such reports are still held up in blogs/websites. Even during the conflict, the situation was not as bleak as presented on that horrendous assessment. Terrorism threat, mugging, scam, attacks on women, bad roads, etc are some of the worst untruths that one can ascribe to a country that emerged from a war close to two decades ago.
“Sierra Leone is currently very peaceful; the country is safe to do business and tourism. In February 2020, the Budapest-Bamako rally chose Freetown as their end destination with about 700 tourists. In that same month, about 300 Danish tourists visited the country. None of them experienced any of the anomalies contained in that blog.
“Let it also be made known to this ill-informed blogger that for the first time after the civil conflict and the Ebola, Sierra Leone has recorded between the period 2019 – February 2020, 125,735 international tourist arrivals.”
Though the Tourism Board’s statement could go a long way to ameliorate the huge damage the president’s terrorism speech may have caused the country’s economy – especially tourism sector, there are fears this effort may be too little too late, as Sierra Leone faces a huge task ahead in rebuilding its economy after COVID-19.
You can read the ‘Travel Safe Abroad’ report that prompted the Tourist Board’s statement here:
You can read the Tourist Board’s Press Statement here:
For information on the work of the Sierra Leone National Tourist Board – please visit the Website: https://ntb.gov.sl/