Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 February 2019:
Last Tuesday, Sierra Leone’s vice president – Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh launched the country’s new tourism promotion brochure – a highly colourful and glossy publication, called the ‘Tourism In-Flight Traveltainment Magazine’.
Tuesday’s launch of the Tourism In-Flight Traveltainment Magazine also marked the opening of the country’s Tourist Information Office, based at the National Museum in Pademba Road, Freetown.
Speaking at the launch, the vice president commended the minister of tourism – Mrs Memunatu Pratt and her staff for their laudable effort in boosting the country’s tourism sector.
Tourism he said is one of the key sectors that the Bio led New Direction government is supporting, so as to diversify the country’s economy from its dependency on minerals export, create jobs and increase the nation’s wealth.
Vice president Jalloh said he has no doubt that the Tourism In-Flight Traveltainment Magazine and the Tourist Information Office, will make great impact in promoting the country’s many attractive sights and facilities to tourists.
Dr Jalloh said that the government is looking to identify where they can spend additional resources to turn the country’s tourism sector around, as they believe it is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world.
“When you look at the productive nature of the tourism Sector and the critical innovations that are taking place in that sector and what it could bring in terms of economic dividend, I believe Sierra Leone has to tap into that sector,” he said.
He also said that Sierra Leone has a lot to offer in attracting both tourists and foreign investors, and these opportunities include – wild life, natural parks, beaches and historical sites.
The tourism sector he said, has over the years been over shadowed by critical challenges that no doubt slowed down the economic growth of the country, rather than put Sierra Leone on the global map as an important tourist destination.
But as a government, he said, they will take steps to overcome some of those challenges.
The vice president spoke about some of the steps they have taken so far in order to boost the country’s tourism sector, such as implementing a Regulatory Framework to ensure that the cost of flight tickets to Sierra Leone will become cheaper, the reduction of taxes on air travel to ensure that flying to Sierra Leone become reasonable and competitive, and the implementation of a visa on arrival policy.
He said that the government has made these changes to attract more tourists and business people to the country.
In the area of infrastructure, he said the government of President Bio is investing resources to develop infrastructure and boost tourist sites in the country.
Minister of tourism and cultural affairs – Mrs Memunatu Pratt said that as a ministry, they have accomplished one of their key milestones in promoting tourism in Sierra Leone, by re-branding and changing the image of the country – changing the negative perception of the country and make tourism a household name for people to know that tourism is alive and is being awakened from slumber.
She said that the biggest challenge for her ministry is about how to inform and attract potential tourists and investors, as well as get Sierra Leoneans to understand and help promote domestic tourism.
To do this, she said, they realised that access to information is vital, hence the opening of the Tourist Information Office at the National Museum in Pademba Road, Freetown, for people to find out about sites, places, attractions and facilities of interest in Sierra Leone.
She spoke about the sector’s developing partnerships with Airline Agencies, Banks and international Agencies, as well as the symbiotic relationship between tourism and aviation.
The Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, Mr Patrick Kaikai said the launching of the Tourism In-Flight Traveltainment magazine and commissioning of the Tourist Information Office will have a positive impact on the Aviation industry. Tourism and Aviation he said, complement and depend on each other, hence the need for collaboration and cooperation.
Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, Dr Ekundaya Walton Gilpin thank the government for taking up this journey in promoting Sierra Leone’s tourism industry to people around the world.
He said that the launch of the Tourism In-Flight Traveltainment magazine and opening of the Tourist Information Office, is an opportunity to attract tourists to Sierra, as well as give hope to Sierra Leoneans and the understanding that they have a positive story to tell about their country.
The Secretary of the Board of Airlines, Mr Edgar Lacle, thank the minister and her team for such a positive move in the right direction. He called on Sierra Leoneans to be proud of their country; and said that the In-flight Magazine will be added to the world’s list of In-Flight Magazines.
The magazine he said will help tourists and investors to discover, identify the beauty, uniqueness, rich tradition, culture, development strides, economy and politics of the country and her people.
Acting General Manager of the National Tourist Board, Mrs. Fatmata Abe-Osagie, said the rationale behind the launching of the In-flight Magazine and opening of the National Tourist Information Office was to re-brand Sierra Leone.
The Deputy Minister of Information, Solomon Jamiru, said “today marks another milestone in the history of the country, as the country has now got a magazine for tourists that will be placed in airlines, and will be available at all of the country’s embassies and other missions abroad.”