Tourism Ministry Poised to Transform Salone
The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs Hon. Mrs. Victoria Saidu Kamara (in photo) said her vision is to transform the country to an attractive tourism and cultural destination. The Minister, prior to her current status, was a Member of Parliament of both the previous Sierra Leone and ECOWAS parliaments. In an exclusive interview with this medium, she highlighted some of the constraints and achievements she has made so far since she took over the ministry for the past two years.
She explained that her ministry was accommodated at its present premises Kingherman Road, by the Chinese in 2009 after many years of struggle. However, the space is inadequate and this poses a challenge to the expansion drive. Hon. Mrs. Victoria Saidu Kamara said the tourism division serves as the hub of the ministry in the formation of strategic tourism policies.
She disclosed that the staff situation is pretty unsatisfactory but said plans are underway to fill the required vacancies, especially positions like the director of tourism, senior tourism officer, and senior tour guide.
On the cultural affairs division. the minister said the primary responsibility of this division is to formulate strategic cultural policies, plans and programmes. The director of this division deals with the Monuments and Relics Commission, International Theatre Institute, National Museum, Railway Museum, and the National Dance Troupe.
The tourism minister said Lumley Beach is one of Sierra Leone’s prime tourist attractions but noted over the period the area has been plagued by a number of problems including the erection of unauthorized building structures, opening of non-tourist shops and she called for special attention in order to reverse the scenario.
She revealed that in spite of constraints the ministry is facing, they have made significant improvements , successes, and achievements, including launching of the Sierra Leone Inaugural Annual Cultural Festival 19- 29 April 2012. Sierra Leone entered the Guinness Book of World Records by the performance of the ‘Sampa Cultural Dance’ which involved 1,001 Sierra Leonean children on the 23 April 2012.
She said the ministry has signed a MOU that ushers the construction of a 50 Bungalow resort at Tokeh Beach. This resort will be completed in March 2013 by a company called ‘Sweet Salone’’. A construction of a new hotel at Lungi International Airport by Sweet Salone is also in progress.
Sierra Leone has also become a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, West Germany. The first foreign appointment of a tourism minister in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone chaired the cultural ministers’ conference of ECOWAS in Abuja, November 2011.
The minister has rehabilitated and furnished the minister’s office and outside building which is now being used as a cafeteria to serve the staff and visiting tourists. Rehabilitation of the front office building and tiling of the three floors of the main office building was funded by the minister. She said some of the key challenges the ministry is facing are inadequate budget and other resources to the ministry of tourism.
The minister stated that there is a poor perception of Sierra Leone as a conflict zone.
She made comment that the Ministry has a weak institutional and human resources capacity, lack of transportation for key personnel of the ministry, and the cultural village at Aberdeen is in a poor state. The way forward for the ministry Mrs Saidu Kamara said is the need for an effective coordination and collaboration with other MDA sectors such as transportation, communication, environment and forestry for the development of t tourism.
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