Council of Churches Sierra Leone (CCSL) Hall, Kingharman Road, Freetown, Friday 19 February, 2021.
The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs has held a workshop with stakeholders of the Western Area Peninsula Beaches on beach development, tourism legislation and policy development framework at the CCSL Hall in Freetown.
The chairman for the event, the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, William Robinson stated that the gathering is aimed at the good governance of the Tourism sector. He appreciated the presence of the beach communities headmen, whom he said are yearning for touristic development in their localities. He said prior to the workshop, the ministry visited all the Peninsula Beaches and found out that a lot has gone wrong, but with the determined leadership of Dr. 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 Minister of Tourism has come down to the grassroots to know their issues, saying that there is now a recognition between the ministry and the headmen. He called on business owners within the beach communities to recognise the headmen as custodians of the beaches. He asked the Ministry to strengthen security on illegal sand mining by initiating strict bye laws and 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 Peninsula. She stated that one of the New Direction Manifesto commitments is to make tourism one of the most important areas for job creation, reduction of poverty in order to rebrand Sierra Leone.
She maintained 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.
She stated that over the years, people have grabbed all touristic assets but they are on the process of retrieving those assets. She encouraged 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.