Mrs. Abe-Osgie made this known to the Tourism Ministry whilst outlining the strides made so far, less than six months in office working in close collaboration with the Minister of Tourism.
Along the entire West Coast of Africa, she informed AYV that Sierra Leone has the most exotic pristine beaches, seafront and spectacular tourist attraction sceneries that cannot be found in other tourist destinations such as Banjul, Dakar, Ivory Coast, Benin, and Accra.
Madam Abe-Osagie further explained that the New Direction government of President Julius Maada Bio expects economic and social benefits from tourism development such as – foreign exchange earnings; the development of areas with no other immediate possibilities of expanding economic activity; creation of employment opportunities; a boost for local production of goods and services consumed by tourists; more tax revenues for the state; the integration of national cultures and societies and safeguarding of the national cultural identity from foreign culture influences; reasonable returns on investment in the sector.
Other economic benefits she said include the promotion of the true image of the country to attract holidaymakers and foreign entrepreneurs as part of the drive to step up international political and economic cooperation through local tourism as was seen done by the Tourism Ministry during the past Christmas in Bonthe Island and Kabala; encouraging fair distribution of national income and creating new markets for consumer goods; providing additional infrastructure and amenities that will encourage and support the tourist industry as well as benefit local and national interests.
However, Madam Abie-Osagie spoke of the difficulties they have with controls, such as permits that were issued before she and the New Direction Government came into the office for building structures along the Lumley Beach and how she has determinedly put a moratorium on the granting of further licenses.
She maintained that reviving the country’s tourism sector to pre-war years remains an uphill task, with the country still suffering from the stigma of the war and the Ebola virus outbreak of 2014 and 2015.
Madam Abie-Osagie affirmed the Ministry and the Board’s firm and unwavering commitment to transforming the country’s tourist industry into a robust, dynamic and profitable national enterprise is real but stressed that there are hurdles to overcome including hefty infrastructural investments across the country in new facilities and tourism enhancing activities.
Madam Abe-Osgie recommended that investors should not only look at Lumley Beach but consider the many other attractive locations in the Western Area and the interior of the country for development. She called the attention of the Lands Ministry to the need to reserve land for future touristic investments.