By Alieu Kondoh, Information Officer
The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and its sub-vented agencies with support from UNDP have held the Northern region regional dialogue in continuation of the commemoration of the United Nations (UN) World Tourism Day Celebrations at Wusum Hotel Hall in Makeni.
The theme for the celebration is “tourism inclusive growth in achieving SDGs and agenda 2030 in post Covid-19 era.
In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Andrew L. Sorie remarked that the Ministry was at the Northern Province to continue the month long activity in commemoration of the UN World Tourism Day.
He said the sector has been the most affected by Covid; stopping travel, loss of jobs and revenues but maintained that the sector still survives. He said the panelists were carefully selected to spearhead the discussion on the theme for this year’s celebration.
The Director of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh said the reason for the dialogue was to intensify the regional engagement on the commemoration of the UN World Tourism Day celebrations by creating awareness of what tourism is all about.
He pointed out that in observance of the celebrations the Ministry had been to Kenema, Bo and now in Makeni all aimed at bringing out issues affecting the sector.
He reiterated the significance of the tourism sector while maintaining that people are now travelling to different places within the country for leisure which he said is good for the sector. He urged all in the sector to be vaccinated for the sector to be taken seriously internationally.
He noted that the issues discussed will be used as part of policy development for the sector. The thanked the Tourism association Northern Region for the support and called on them to collaborate with the Ministry in addressing the challenges serving as barriers to smooth business operations.
In her statement, the General Manager of the National Tourist Board (NTB), Fatmata Hamid Carew intimated that this year’s celebration is in reflection of the things that will foster the progress of the sector hence the theme that has to do with inclusive growth.
She mentioned that everyone is important in achieving a sustainable inclusive economic growth for tourism because the hospitality industry cannot stand alone, she said.
She added that for travellers to have faith in our destination we need to have other sectors, electricity, water, health and roads to be in a good state. She stated that for us to manage Covid effectively, we must put the right protocols in place in opening the sector.
She re-echoed the need for vaccination as a recipe to beat Covid and subsequently get the sector up and running.
Delivering the keynote address, the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, William I.K. Robinson stated that the celebration was chosen by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to promote public awareness on the immense contributions of tourism to the socio-economic growth of nations and to promote peace and socio-cultural cohesion globally as well as to reflect on the challenges faced by the sector.
She mentioned that the Ministry and its agencies have achieved many deliverables and achievements to support sustainable growth of the sector.
He furthered that the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic brought the world to standstill and the tourism sector is amongst the hardest hit with millions of jobs at risk, but said we must live up to our responsibility to ensure that we make collective contributions to promote the sector as well as share the benefits tourism offers as a destination.