The Speaker of Sierra Leone’s Parliament, Hon. Chernor Abass Bundu has in his keynote address at the first ever Tourism Parliamentary Governance Conference applauded the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt for her exceptional leadership in steering the affairs of tourism and culture in the country.
The theme for the conference was: ‘The role of parliament in the development of tourism and culture in Sierra Leone’.
The two-day conference that was supported by the World Bank was aimed at foster deepening the knowledge and understanding of the role of parliamentarians towards helping the tourism sector overcome its prevailing challenges, enact favourable legislations, seek requisite support and collaboration of MDAs, and entice key players to support the sector.
The conference was co-chaired by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Sengehpoh Solomon Thomas and the Vice Chancellor of Milton Margai Technical University, Dr. Phillip Kanu.
The Ministry and the National Tourist Board used the conference to re-launch the National Brand Logo “Explore Freedom”, showcased its promotional materials to the MPs and made the Speaker of Parliament, Tourism and Cultural Ambassador.
Hon. Bundu maintained that the gathering of the whole of parliament outside the well of parliament marks a historic milestone in the history of tourism and culture in Sierra Leone and also demonstrates respect for parliament and the crucial contribution parliamentarians can make to foster the development of the sector.
He said engaging MP’s to discuss their roles in the development of tourism and culture should be seen as part of a broader strategy for the quantum transformation and diversification of the economy that the economy of Sierra Leone needs and that the conference gives them a potent opportunity to begin the long awaited conversation to interact and to engage as to how best they can serve as gate keepers of the future development of the tourism industry, hoping that the conference provides the needful to lay a veritable foundation upon which they can build a new trajectory to achieve a great deal for tourism development.
In her statements, Dr. Memunatu Pratt expressed delight at engaging members of their law-making body to dialogue and map out the way forward on the development of tourism in Sierra Leone. She mentioned the increasing need to review and update the National Tourism Development Act, 1990 for an effective acceleration of the sector is but imperative and significant to the development of other policies that promote the transformation of the industry.
She continued that sustainable tourism is highly dependent on its governance set-up, institutional capacity, and sustainable impact, with stakeholders’ collaboration and integration of policy actions of common goal.
“In order to fulfil the transformation of our sector, key challenges like the overlapping functions of other MDA’s to the tourism sector, environmental issues, poor waste management systems, the review of the Tourism Development Act 1990, poor access to tourism development sites, energy, water, communication among others must be addressed”, she added.
The Director of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh delivered an in-depth presentation on “Tourism and the Role of Members of Parliament towards the development of tourism in Sierra Leone”, while the Director of Culture, Foday Jalloh explained in detail “Culture and the role of Members of Parliament towards the development of Cultural Heritage in Sierra Leone”.
There were high-level panel discussions on tourism investment opportunities and assets, tourism infrastructure (water, energy, roads, sand communication), tourism hospitality development and law, SMEs, and Poverty Reduction for Sustainable Livelihood in the SDGs. Increment of budget allocation to the Ministry, development of necessary infrastructure, signing of MoU with line MDAs and the enactment of laws for sustainable tourism development were proffered by MPs as action plan going forward.
The awarding of certificates to all the Members of Parliament by the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt climaxed the occasion.