The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the National Tourist Board, on Wednesday 14th August 2019, hosted a renowned tourism Researcher, Prof. Fergus Maclaren Principal at MAC-DUFF Tourism, Heritage and Planning Ottawa, Canada on a public lecture on the theme ‘Sustainable Destination Development and Management for Sierra Leone’ geared towards improving the promotion and marketing of Sierra Leone as an attractive tourist destination, at the Bintumani Hotel Aberdeen.
Speaking at the event Acting General Manager of National Tourist Board, Fatmata Abe-Osagie, disclosed that during the attendance of the Minister of Tourism at the Trade on Foreign Direct Investment and innovation for sustainable Development in Spain, she was able to attract interest in Sierra Leone culminating in an invitation from the Global Economic Institute of which Prof Fergus Maclaren is a member to visit Canada on a Tourism Investment Promotion and Study Tour morganised by the Global Economic institute so as to engage key institutions on the possibility of partnership. During the visit they were able to meet with stakeholders, including the Canada Foreign Affairs Minister Cap Canada and tour experts. She then gave a brief background about Fergus Maclaren, noted as a sustainable tourism and cultural heritage management professional with 25 years of experience in Canada and internationally. His background includes a broad range of tourism planning, destination management and community development aspects including training, risk and gap analysis, performance indicators development, research, site evaluation, needs assessment, Internet marketing, communications plans, site branding, multi-stakeholder evaluation and participation.
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt, said that Prof. Fergus Maclaren’s public lecture will help improve the tourism sector in the country. Amidst the challenges inherited, she maintained that the government rates
Tourism as one of the top priorities alongside agriculture and fisheries, adding that the President is passionate about tourism and wants to see the industry revamped and serve as a boost to the economy of the country. “Over the years the focus of Sierra Leone has been on mining of diamonds and gold. Yes, we accept that we are having revenue from those sectors, but we have found out that the Tourism sector should have been one of the areas that could have responded to things like youth unemployment, skills development, private sector development, trade and investment and developing our basic culture of patriotism and national cohesion. These are the things we have realized.” She added. She also added that they are going to work with the private sector to re-brand the country’s tourism sector.
Principal at MAC-DUFF Tourism, Heritage and Planning Ottawa, Canada Prof Fergus Maclaren in his lecture disclosed that Sierra Leone has the ability to march with other countries in the world. He however observed that there are challenges, which include infrastructure, access to Lungi International Airport, road conditions during the rains, safety in the country, and the negative image of the country due to the Civil War, Ebola and the Mudslide. He called on the government to focus on tourism and its components as it is a significant economic building block in the new direction manifesto.
He concluded by saying that Sierra Leone has potentials in a number of areas to make tourism an integral part of the national economy and warned that its development will take time, patience and investment to elevate its national economy and benefits.