The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Madam Memunatu B. Pratt has disclosed that Tourism is an environmentally dependent sector and also one of the world’s fastest-growing industries for rapid economic transformation if properly utilized.
She made the disclosure during a one-day national conference on the environment which is convened by the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment at the Miatta Conference Hall, Youyi Building, on Brookfield in Freetown, on Monday 22nd October 2018.
In her statement, the Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister, Madam Pratt, says that the conference will serve as a platform for all stakeholders to elicit policy and programmatic discussion, establish task forces, and come up with fresh innovative and practical solutions around environmental management to accelerate socio-economic transformation in Sierra Leone.
Madam.Pratt said the need to preserve the world’s inherent assets for future generation is becoming an essential goal not only for travel and tourism but also for all other industries that used the earth’s natural resources adding that her Ministry will collaborate positively with line ministries and agencies to manage the environment well.
She continued that, negative impacts will only arise when the level of visitors use is superior to the environment’s ability to cope with this use noting that positive impact will arise when every tourist understands the real and main concept of environment and sustainable tourism by heart, not just by word.
She further commented that, the environment is often used in its widest concept to include different aspects such as cultural, economic, political, social and physical or natural type and that the physical environment is often referred to as the key element of tourism and includes natural and manmade components.
She added that, in terms of tourism, the environment is always understood as a nature or atmosphere of a destination or a place, which is used for tourism adding that nature consists of mountains, water resources such as seaside, sea, rivers, and waterfalls among others.
She said Green environment includes plants, forests, parks, rainforests, safaris and mention that when elaborated to wilderness it consists wildlife, animals, forest species and a lot more others with both socially, heritage sites or cultural uniqueness are also part of the environment.
“Uncontrolled conventional tourism poses potential threats to many natural areas around. It can put enormous pressure on an area and lead to impacts such as soil erosion, increased pollution, discharges into the sea, natural habitat loss, increased pressure on endangered species and heightened vulnerability to forest fires”, she said.
Madam .Pratt maintained that, taking care of the environment means taking care of the visitor and that the environment has an intrinsic value, which outweighs its value as a tourism asset adding that its enjoyment by future generations and its long-term survival must not be prejudiced by short-term considerations. She said reducing the environmental impacts of tourism were key to ensuring it remains a major source of economic activity which she said can only be achieved through ‘Sustainable Tourism’-proposed as a way of “minimizing adverse environmental impacts on local communities, our built heritage, landscapes, water resources, habitats, and species while supporting social and economic prosperity.”