On the 19th February 2021, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs held a workshop with stakeholders of the Western Area Peninsular Beaches on beach development, tourism legislation and policy development framework at the Council of Churches Sierra Leone (CCSL) Hall on Kingharman Road in Freetown.
The Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, William Robinson who was Chairman of the event stated that the gathering is aimed at enhancing the good governance of the Tourism sector.
He lauded the presence of the beach communities headmen, whom he said are yearning for touristic development in their localities also maintaining that prior to the workshop, the Ministry visited all the Peninsular Beaches and found out that a lot has gone wrong, but assured that with the determined leadership of the Minister, Dr. Memunatu Pratt, things will get better.
The Deputy Chairman, Council of Headmen, Morlai Conteh thanked the Ministry for the workshop noting that it is the first time that the Ministry of Tourism has come down to the grassroots to know their issues, saying that there is now a relationship between the Ministry and the headmen.
He called on business owners within the beach communities to recognise the headmen as custodians of the beaches and requested the Ministry to strengthen security on illegal sand mining by initiating strict bye-laws as well as also engage the headmen in cleaning the beaches.
He complained that business people in the beach communities are paying taxes to too many institutions, which he said should be looked into.
The Chairman of National Tourist Board, Alieu Kokobay applauded the Ministry for taking the issues of the headmen into consideration. He called on the headmen to stand firm and resist any attempt by outsiders to take beach lands without developing them. He encouraged them to own and protect touristic destinations, noting that it will provide “bread and butter.”
The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt in her statement said that this is the very first consultation with headmen in the Western Peninsular.
She stated that one of the New Direction’s Manifesto commitments is to make tourism one of the most important areas for job creation, reduction of poverty in order to rebrand Sierra Leone.
The Minister disclosed that all the international travels that the Ministry has embarked on are worth it because there is a lot of interest now in Sierra Leone, adding that the interest of the public in tourism is now immense.
She furthered that the biggest factor in beach development is the Western Area because of its enormous potentials and that the Ministry is committed to making Western Area a very attractive tourist destination.
Dr.Pratt stated that over the years, people have grabbed all touristic assets but they are on the process of retrieving those assets and went on to encourage the headmen to hope for the better as she is fighting their land issues.
Maligie Kamara did a clear and concise presentation on Tourism Legislation and Policy Development framework, and Henry Bayoh explained the impacts of climate change on the tourism sector.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper