By Mohamed Juma Jalloh
It could be unapologetically affirmed without hesitation that Sierra Leone is the most beautiful country in the world with huge potential Tourism assets and wild life.
Sierra Leone is endowed with beautiful coastal beaches, an excellent climate, and an impressive landscape including mountains, rivers, hills and lakes.
The Lumley/Aberdeen beach is located on the fringes of the Freetown peninsular and remains the most popular and easily accessible beach in Freetown.It is adorned with amazing architecture of hotels overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
All the hotels are majestically set by the banks of the ocean with a clear unending view of the horizon. The luxurious hotels depicts a stately suites surrounded by lush green gardens serving as a perfect resting abode for many tourist escaping bustle back home.
The hotels are also second to none in terms of hospitality with beautiful smiling ladies and other eager to help aides ready to render on the spot assistance. All the pampering usually exclusively reserved for red carpet royals are rolled out in these hotels. There are allocated beach spaces in front of the hotels where bars are erected on the sand selling assorted drinks and miscellaneous global cuisines. There are car rental services available in all the hotels.
Commercial transportation including motor bikes, taxis and tricycle are available whenever tourists wants to acquaint with the historical city of Freetown. The scenic highway in the beach is clean, pot-hole free and tarred and the cool fresh breeze spread a soothing feeling in the atmosphere. There was the thorny issue of sea weed that makes the beach unsightly.
In utter surprise to many people the sea weed has not reared its ugly head for the last couple of years. The Freetown Peninsular towers over the beach with neat and curling mountainous roads. The beautiful scenic highway reveals one new thing after another. At night when all the magnificent colored lights are switched on, the casinos and the convivial scenes resemble Las Vegas in the United States.
It is the only place on earth where the country`s national flag is depicted on the outer environment-the green vegetation, white sands and blue sea.
For tourists who love to be at sea for rowing or fishing the beach is the ideal get away spot, where a mixture of nature and beauty creates a wonderful pleasure. The anxiety of the reader must have reached a crescendo.
Caroline Long a tourist from Scotland did not suppress her admiration for Sierra Leone.“This is simply Paradise on earth”. She averred.
There is no cause for safety and security concern. Before now, there were numerous instances of pick pocketing, but the erection of four police post along the beach has drastically reduced the menace.
Apart from that, the provision of security street lights from the Lumley to the Aberdeen end of the beach means there is no more hiding place for evil doers.
In the lodges, there are thermal generators with an inters witch in the event the government generated electricity is off.
Furthermore, tourist love uninterrupted internet access.There are three private sector mobile operators Africell, Orange and Q-cell and one sate owned Sierratel company providing 4th generation internet services.
Suppose an individual falls ill while holidaying in such hotels there are cutting edge first class Hospitals in the likes of Choithram,Aspen and many more private outlets that can render basic medical services.
The Aberdeen/Lumley beach is not the only beach in SierraLeone.There are several splendid and magnificent beaches in the country such as Tokeh,Bureh, Mammah,Kent,River No 2 etc that should warrant the excursion of any potential tourist.
Infact the, River No 2 is acclaimed as the most beautiful beach in the world by the World tourism Organisation (WTO).
“With the visa on arrival policy and the launching of the GIS mapping of touristic sites and the anticipated home coming of many African Americans that trace their descent from Sierra Leone, we expect the numbers to peak”.Aliue Kokobaye the Chairman of National Tourist Board revealed.
The country is renowned for its unrivalled culture and unique historical heritage. There are crafts men and carving salesmen making rows of ebony wood figurines and canvass paintings displayed along the beach.
Another marvelous touristic attraction is the ruins of the slave castle at Bunce Island which was once at the center of the thriving Trans Atlantic slave trade.
Sierra Leoneans can also boast of Bintumani Mountain the highest in the country and the Sierra Leone river estuary the largest natural harbor in the world.
The Gola forest is an important forest reserves which serves as habitat for different species such as chimpanzees,birds,fishes,oyster and snails contribute to the country’s biodiversity.
The Tiwai and the Bonthe Islands are found in the south of the country. The Tacugama park is located in the Freetown peninsular, while the Outamba-Kilimi national park and the loma mountains are all situated in the north.
Furthermore, the Yawri Bay responsible for one third of Sierra Leones fish supply. Lake sonfon,the Bumbuna Waterfalls, Freetown peninsular and the Guma Valley water trail are all attractive sites.
Being multi-dimentional, the tourism sector can encourage the development of several sectors of the country`s economy.
A booming tourism industry can lead to investment in hotels and restaurants.Furthermore, the transport, communications and entertainment industry would be influenced positively.
Tourism has become a major source of income for many countries.It can create a flow of foreign exchange into the economy, which in turn increases profit for the citizens and revenue for the government.Through taxes, the government revenue could be used to improve health,education ,agriculture and for the elimination of poverty in the country.
A booming tourism industry would increase household income by creating a market for local produce. It can also help the country improve its health care services, sanitation,water supply as well as Airport and transport services. When it comes to rebranding and image making the media has a tremendous role to play to change the civil war, ebola and mudslide illustration of the country.
The dissemination of positive information to reach potential tourists is important. Foreign embassies can be used to attracting more tourists. Problems such as illegal minning, logging, and commercial hunting of endangered species must be tackled. Inadequate electricity, sanitation, water supply and proper infrastructure make it difficult for tourism to develop in the country. The responsibility to develop tourism should not be in the hands of the tourism industry but to all sectors of government. What government must do in the meantime is to improve the standards of hotels and restaurants and preserve the natural resources and historical monuments in collaboration with the conservation society of Sierra Leone.
The New Direction Government of President Bio which anchored their Party manifesto on diversifying the economy is yet to pump reasonable budgetary allocations to the country’s tourisms sector.
Issues such as high airline tickets prices and costs for hotel accommodation continues to rate the country a one of the highest destination points in the world.
Considerable state and private sector resources should be pumped into the country various historical and touristic sites with a view to woo investors.
As it stands most of these sites lacks the basic amenities to keep tourists comfortable.There are indications that the World Bank is set to intervene with funding to revamp most of these sites with basic amenities.
Until this happens the recent introduction of a visa-on arrival policy will not do much to woo the expected numbers of tourists into Sierra Leone.
By Mohamed Juma Jalloh