Tourist Board to Establish 5 Eco-Tourist Sites
In line with their mandate, the National Tourist Board of Sierra Leone through the support of DFID and other donors will establish five Eco-Tourist Sites in the country. This was disclosed by General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the National Tourist Board Sierra Leone, Yassin Kargbo yesterday at his Lumley Beach office.
Mr. Kargbo stated that the EIF is the integrated frame work, it is a funding that they got from DFID and other donors they are going to use to establish 5 Eco-Tourist sites in the country. The fund which they received by the end of 2016 is about $2 million.
“We received a very positive letter from DFID stating that they have re-instated the funding which is about $2 million.”
Yassin Kargbo was speaking about their successes in 2016 to this reporter. He said just after the 2015 Ebola, they had difficulty but the confidence that was lost before has been regained as Sierra Leone got eighty thousand visitors in 2016. That he added helped the National Tourists Board greatly. He pointed out that they were having difficulty in revenue collection but they exceeded the budgeted plan for 2016 which they setup. “The regional offices, before people were talking about the National Tourist Board only station in Freetown but now is a thing of the past, we now have regional offices with Provincial Managers in the entire region.”
Mr. Kargbo went to say the way National Tourists Board was counting visitors only based on those that were coming by flight but now he added now they are taking record of those that are coming by land and sea. National Tourists Board is a multi-sectorial industry therefore it must have some challenges. This Mr. Kargbo said is true but they were trying to solve some of them.
“You can’t talk about Tourism without talking about the transport sector, people are crying about that cost of flying to Sierra Leone as one that is very expensive. Lungi is the gateway to Sierra Leone. We have difficulty at the airport and also crossing the estuary. We can’t succeed without the help of the others.”
He emphasised that some of these challenges have been minimized. He disclosed that the National Tourists Board have very good relationship with the ministry of Transport and Aviation, Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture among others.
Another challenge the National Tourists Board is faced with is the non-availability of electricity at the Lumbley beach. “You will be surprised to know that our establishment that are operating here have to incur high overheads because of the generators they are using and that has to be in cooperated to the amount guests have to pay at the hotels. That is why some are saying Sierra Leone is very expensive to stay.”
Despite all these challenges the General Manager confidently said the National Tourist Board have got a very good prospect this 2017 in relation to electricity as the Minister of Energy has asked National Tourists Board to give them land where they can station a substation this year. He is confident and said National Tourists Board aims to get more successful 2017 than 2016.
President Koroma in his recovery message emphasised about tourism which is now factor into the recovery of this country after agriculture and fisheries which the General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the National Tourist Board of Sierra Leone, Yassin Kargbo said it means there is more focus on tourism now in the country.
“This is one major fact that made us to be hopeful that we will generate more revenue and do better than 2016. For instance the five Eco Tourists Sites and the re-branding of the Hotel Tourism School at Brookfield’s hotel, we will be developing them because the money has been allocated to us.”
By Trace Joenal
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