Tourism Ministry engages Village Headmen
The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs has together with the National Tourist Board hosted a stakeholder engagement with village headmen and representatives from the Anti-Corruption Commission and Ministry of Defense at the ministry’s conference hall in Freetown.
In his opening remarks, Director of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh, said the ministry is working using tourism to showcase the beauty of the country and in the process create employment.
He stated that one of the challenges of the ministry over the years is that most of the areas with high tourism potential have been trampled upon. Director Jalloh told the village headmen that the Ministry is interested in all the coastal area beaches, the beautiful mountains and the forested areas to bring development that has value for money and also appreciated by Sierra Leoneans.
On her part, General Manager of National Tourist Board, Fatmata Kroma said all tourist attractions fall under the purview of the Tourism ministry and its subvented agencies.
She noted that the ministry has a mandate to regularize and manage those tourist attractions, and warned village headmen that it will not be business as usual as all tourism development areas must go through the process of management.
Alie Kokobaye, Chairman of National Tourist Board, emphasized that the meeting is family- based and for tourism to thrive, they must work as a family for the benefit of all and sundry.
“We want to see more collaboration not only between the ministry and the board but even among the village headmen,” he urged.
In her keynote address, Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt, said the village headmen are very important in ensuring that government policies reach the lower levels. She maintained that in the past two years, a lot has happened in her Ministry as compared to how it was in the past.
According to her, President Julius Maada Bio has identified tourism as one of the areas to diversify because it has not been yielding fruits for almost 60 years.
He continued that before the intervention of the coronavirus, they have been able to revive the ministry with already achieve in pushing the ministry forward. She said the Ministry is now faced with a situation where they have been overtaken by events because of the manner in which people have grabbed the tourism sector. She called on the village headmen to work with the ministry to ensure that the beach fronts are managed properly, noting that there has been long time neglect that caused the village people to believe that those beach fronts are part of the community land.
The village headmen commended the ministry for the engagement but raised several concerns, including neglect in terms of the management and protection of the coastal areas, no stipend for village headmen and the grabbing of community land by foreigners.