MONROVIA – Liberia joined other countries across the globe on Saturday, September 25, 2021 to celebrate World Tourism Day, with a call for adequate partnership between the private and public sectors to ensure investment in the tourism sector to guarantee millions of dollars in revenue generation.
The World Tourism Day, which is celebrated each year on September 27, is the global observance day fostering awareness of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution that the sector can make towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The day was set aside by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 1980.
The observance in Liberia was characterized with a street parade, and the showcasing and sale of Liberian-made fabrics, foods, drinks, artistic works, and cultural performances, among others at the Paynesville City Hall, outside Monrovia.
Speaking in an interview with Reporters at the Paynesville City Hall, the Assistant Minister for Tourism at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Princess Turkolon disclosed that Liberia is among other countries with potentially driven touristic sites, materials and others, but the country has not been able to reap the needed dividends from the sector.
She emphasized that like the mining, energy and other sectors in Liberia, the tourism sector can also immensely contribute to revenue generation if the necessary supports are given to Liberians.
She noted that the showcasing of hundreds different kinds of products locally produced shows that Liberians can do better when they are empowered or given the requisite support.
Madam Turkolon noted that the sector will become attractive to seek investment opportunities if tourism is prioritized and is seen as one of the sectors that can help to increase revenue generation.
“We are here to showcase what we have and I can safely say Liberia is rich when it comes to tourism. We want the world to see what we have in Liberia. We have been sitting on millions and millions of dollars and I think it is now time that we wake up and encourage investment in the sector. We want to be thankful to President George Manneh Weah for his numerous support in helping to improve the sector and creating the necessary environment for our locals to engage into the production of locally produce materials and others that we see here today”.
Minister Turkolon pointed out that the displaying of products, artifacts and others at the trade fair will show to the outside world that Liberia is ready for business, and its citizens are not only talented, but they are also versatile and unique in whatever they do.
She stated that though much needs to be done if Liberia is to be on par with other countries in the tourism sector, progress is being made by the Weah led-administration to improve the sector and market touristic sites and others in Liberia to attract the attention of not only tourists, but foreign investors.
For his part, Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs at MICAT, Lance Gbagonyon, stressed the need for the strengthening of the partnership between the public and private sectors.
He said though the CDC led-government continues to create an enabling environment to help boom the sector, it is now time that private businesses, companies and others take full ownership and drive the tourism industry in Liberia.
“There will be no tourism without the private sector. Today is a clear manifestation of team work and Liberians have the skills to produce juices and other products that are being imported into Liberia. If the government works with the private sector, and the private sector works with the government-we all can succeed”.
He stressed that Liberia-owned businesses must be supported if they must compete with their foreign business counterparts in and out of the country.
Minister added that Liberians should continue to patronize the businesses of their kinsmen as a means of empowering and helping to lift up one another.
For her part, the President of the National Tourism Association, Madam Mai Urey called on “domestic tourists” to continue to support Liberian-owned businesses operating in the country.
She noted that these “domestic tourists” should not relent on showcasing locally made materials, foods, drinks and others to their relatives, friends, workmates and others in their countries or other areas.
“I want all of us to work together to make Liberia better. Great things are in Liberia. All of you are domestic tourists living in Liberia. Unless you can promote Liberia, the world will not come”.
Madam Urey disclosed that it is now time that Liberians hold together and desist from portraying the “negatives” of their country to the outside world.
She observed that the showcasing of negative things about Liberia to the outside world has done the country more harm than good over the years.