Sierra Leone National Tourist Board disputes claim of terrorism in Sierra Leone

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:

https://www.travelsafe-abroad.com/

You can read the Tourist Board’s Press Statement here:

Press Release on Sierra Leone Tourism

For information on the work of the Sierra Leone National Tourist Board – please visit the Website: https://ntb.gov.sl/

13 Comments

  1. Rubbish report, is complete nonsense to suggest that President Bio’s recent speech on the state of National Security has acted to impede investors and tourist from coming to the country. Firstly no investor has ever been interested in the priorities of the country ie Food Security, Health and Education. The country has never benefitted anything from digging diamonds, gold and other minerals which the so called investors are only interested in. Secondly Tourism is a sector that has been neglected in the last 11 years, particularly under the reckless regime of the APC government.

    There is no viable infrastructure in place. To begin with, the mode of transport getting from the airport to Freetown is a nightmare for any tourist entering the country. The road to the Chimpanzee sanctuary in Freetown is precarious and a no go area for anyone without a 4×4 car. Places of interest like museums, theatres, shopping centres etc are all not fit for purpose. Indeed we should acknowledge that President Bio’s government is faced with a mammoth task to fix this broken tourist industry that he inherited from the reckless APC movement.

  2. You will reap what you sow. So the president has portrayed a bad image for the country and that is what they are reaping from the world now. May the blood of JESUS Christ deliver our land that we love Sierra Leone.

  3. I have written it on this forum a long time ago. the tourism sector can only be a smaller part of development in this wonderful Sierra Leone.
    Beside this covid-19 and the political crisis with a high rate of unemployment amongst the youths and the main obstacle being the long rainy season during the time of main holidays in Europe (June – September).

  4. This misfitted President,and his bunch of winos are in a league of their own; all by themselves in the bottomless pits of outright,troubling ignorance and the most deeply confounding incompetence; the man is unfit to rule, plain and simple. Where was the minister of Tourism, when the President was giving his poorly conceived speech,designed to spread hatred, lies and deceit against the opposition? My goodness!They never look before they leap, never measure and weigh the consequences of their actions and words before they utter them.Dummies they truly are!

    They keep on committing the same childish, amateurish mistakes, over and over again that you will never see even Class 5 children making. The Minister should somehow muster the courage to have a long chat with her boss, and express her disgust for the contempt he has has shown towards the people of Sierra Leone and the Tourism industry as a whole. Our President that does not know how to build things but is an expert in destroying them, has a secret hobby he does not want you to know – he loves tearing and burning things down and reducing them to rubble.

    • What do you expect from a clueless president. Always doing the wrong things. Corona sometimes could be a blessing. Now it has stopped the misuse of the country’s money and smuggling of the rich minerals from our country. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  5. A responsible government should always try to maintain peace and stability in the country. Government should always try to reach all levels in the country. Our president is the one responsible for our backwardness. The president should be Wise.

  6. I am just trying to figure out what’s the discussions about tourism when all international Airports are currently closed and even cruise liners around the world has been grounded. President Bio will not be forced to board a flight on a GUILTY TRIP because he labeled the APC party for exactly what they are. Israel labeled some groups as terrorists and even Kenya and Nigeria but that does not stop tourists from visiting their countries.

    • May God bless you Mr. Alusine Fallay. President Bio is the first head of state of Sierra Leone to call an age old problem by its real name. We cannot as a nation keep pretending that a problem that exists does not exist. If we have terrorists in our midst, then what is wrong with our president calling them out?

      The great United States of America has long admitted to the existence of domestic terrorism in the United States. Many other countries in Europe, Asia and Africa have done the same. President Bio by identifying the All Peoples Congress as a terrorist organization, is inadvertently asking the International Community (IC) to help Sierra Leone root out this menace. The president must now follow that up by formally requesting a full investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of APC leaders who were involved in the terrorist activities at Pademba Road, Tombo and Lunsia. Enough is enough.

  7. If there is one thing all Sierra Leoneans tend to agree on is that our country’s coast line is one of the best in the world. Our nice and picturesque sandy beaches can compete with any list of countries of favorites tourist destination around the world – like Bondi beach in Australia, Bali beach in Indonesia and the sunny beaches of the Caribbean islands or our next door neighbour the Gambia. Some countries’ economies depend surely on tourism – Egypt and Greece comes to mind, or the Adriatic coast line in southern Europe. That is why their governments will go all out to create the necessary conditions to attract tourist. Securty is paramount.

    So one could imagine how I was left gobsmacked listening to the President’s speech when he promised to go after the people that were out to destabilise his government, real or imagined. Mr president you should be selling your country not talking it down. By making such statements you are hitting the wrong targets. To put it bluntly you are to all intents and purposes scaring away would be tourists. As you can see, international tourists are spoilt for choice when it comes to holiday destinations. we have millions of reasons to attract some of these tourists who otherwise will feel safe to go to other tourist hot spots. One of the biggest advantages we have over these countries is our geographical location. We should take advantage of our close proximity to Europe, Asia and the United States of America.

    The first thing any family considers about their holiday is security, whether they can afford it and how peaceful is that country. No tourist will take his young family in for example Boko Haram infested northern Nigeria or indeed in War torn Syria and Yemen. The only way we will attract tourists is to stop this political witch hunting and most important – stop talking down our country. Sierra Leone is the best place to live. Indeed every Sierra Leonean knows and I speak for all of us – we are more tolerant and love foreigners more than our own fellow Sierra Leoneans. If you want to prove me wrong just travel to another African country and see if you get the red carpet treatment.

  8. The Tourism Minister has to sit and listen to what experts say about the country. Launching a verbal attack at those who know what they are talking about is not wisdom. She did the same to me when I wrote the widelife article that went viral on The Sierra Leone Telegraph https://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/destruction-of-wildlife-in-sierra-leone-does-not-bode-well-for-tourism-and-ecosystem-a-special-report/
    This country is currently at a developmental stalemate where political insanity and crime are working hand in hand to destroy the country. She has no clue what she is doing – her first reaction to any critical piece is to revert to type by insulting people of reputable character and international standing. Her finger prints are all over that statement. The country needs redemption.

  9. What else do you expect outsiders to think of your home if you the leader has publicly painted it to be in a state of fighting terrorism? Just as the president single-handedly managed to chase potential investors by cancelling the Mammamah airport contract along with major mining licenses, he has just succeeded in scaring away potential tourists by his ill-advised speech.

    For those extremists who had advised the president to label an entire opposition party as terrorists, i say HELLO to you all — see the ramifications now!!! The sooner you employ common sense and rule as a government for all citizens, the better for everyone. Extremism will never bear good fruits in a democratic dispensation.

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