Tourism Push – Liberia Launches National Export Strategy
Monrovia – Tourism is one sector in Liberia that has been neglected or perhaps given limited or no attention. In other countries, Tourism is one of the major contributors to revenue growth and the creation of jobs.
Report by Al-Varney Rogers
Sadly, the story in Liberia is far too different. The government has focused much of its attention in attracting foreign direct investment specifically in the enclave sector which has not yielded the needed results.
Worldwide, the travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with a global economic contribution (direct, indirect and induced) of almost 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars in 2014.
The direct economic impact of the industry, including accommodation, transportation, entertainment and attractions, was approximately 2.36 trillion U.S. dollars that year.
Many emerging countries in Africa like Kenya are putting in a lot in term of resources and strategy to boost their tourism industry but Liberia is yet to tap into this industry which could be a pathway in achieving vision 2030 thus making the country a middle income one.
In an effort to turn that story around, the government of Liberia and its partners has launched the Liberia National Export Strategy on Tourism Launch Program.
This launch is part of the celebrations for the 169th Independence Day. Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf launched the Liberia Export Strategy on tourism.
The Liberia National Export Strategy on Tourism is an integral part of the WTO post accession plan. The strategy contains nine pilot projects that have the potential to transform strategies being considered to diversify Liberia’s economy.
In 2014, the government addressed constraints in the areas of agricultural value chains. Immense work, consultations, progress are already taking place in those four value.
To enhance coordination in the implementation of the WTO post accession plan, the President signed Executive Order No. 74. That action accelerated the expansion of the policy space to promote inclusive growth and expand job creation for Liberians.
At Wednesday’s program, the government launched a website to promote tourism and highlight Liberia’s touristic potential. We will launch a website the #PositivelyLiberian to highlight all things positive about Liberia.
The Kpatawee Waterfalls Community-Based Ecotourism Project in Bong County will also be launched.
Commerce Minister Axel Addy said the tourism sector is a multi-billion industry worldwide. “Tourism is multibillion dollar industry.”
Addy averred that the strategy will unlock the potential of the tourism sector, adding that it will create jobs.
“We are trying to promote strategy that will unlock the potential of the tourism sector. It can provide jobs,” Addy said.
Liberia does not officially issue tourist visas and none of its attractions — such as the 700 square mile Sapo national park and the surfing beaches at Robertsport, have been developed for anyone other than the hardiest of visitors. Moreover, its chronic power shortage, which makes electricity very expensive, discourages entrepreneurs from starting businesses.
Liberia has made remarkable progress over the last decade, transitioning from a restless state immersed in civil war to a stable developing country.
The country is still commonly known for poverty and war, despite stable economic growth and a president that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The International Trade Center Executive Director Ms. Arancha Gonzalez said the National Export Strategy on Tourism launched is a positive step forward.
“Today we take another step forward in the area of tourism services where there is great potential to tap into trade-led growth. It is about putting the framework in place to attract more tourists to Liberia to generate inclusive growth and jobs. This is what the Tourism Trade Strategy is about,” Gonzalez said.
“The Strategy recognizes tourism as one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world. In fact, second to South East Asia, the tourism sector is growing the fastest in Africa. In 1990 Africa welcomed about 17 million tourists and, by 2014, the number of visits increased to over 65 million. For the future – the sky is the limit,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said the possibilities for micro, small and medium sized companies to engage in business linked to the tourism sector and the possibilities to create jobs for Liberian men and women are real and growing by the minute.
“Rebuilding this labor-intensive tourism sector offers considerable promise for generating good jobs and supporting diversification,” Gonzalez said.