As we mark the third and final day of a string of meaningful bilateral meetings, complemented by colourful exhibitions, and the creation and strengthening of impactful networks. Nabeela Tunis, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Tourism, is leading the way in a vigorous, conscious and concerted effort to position Sierra Leone at the pinnacle of desirable tour destinations in Africa. The three-day 2023 World Trade Market (WTM) is scheduled to end this afternoon on 8th November 2023, in what has been an explosion of cultural and corporate displays at London’s famed ExCel centre. The remarkable show, put up by a multitude of countries and organisations, across continents, reveals the depth of great ideas at play in the sustained drive to ensure that tourism continues to evolve ethically and to serve as a reliable platform, not just for leisure, but for promoting wellbeing, supporting skills training, and facilitating employments for youths.
The WTM is the foremost global platform of the travel and tourism industry, where individuals, countries and organisations come together to create a web of new connections, strengthen existing networks, publicise established interests, promote preferred goals, and generally exhibit the best of what they could offer to the viewing public, way beyond the precincts of any single location.
This year’s WTM ran on the theme YOUTH AND EDUCATION FOR TOURISM DEVELOPMENT, highlighting the importance of Youths and the vital role of Education as a factor that pulsates (or should pulsate) at the very heart of tourism. On Monday 6th November 2023, the first day of the WTM exhibition, Minister Nabeela Tunis took part in a Ministerial Session that extensively explored the use of Education, (including specific skill training methods), as a means to generate employment, create income, empower the youths and enhance the continuous growth of the tourism industry. Forty ministers of tourism, from around the world, took part in this in-depth roundtable discussion, which culminated in a question and answer segment that was moderated by Zainab Badawi, the celebrated Sudanese-British television and radio journalist, whose fine steering skills riveted focus on the subject matter, in an exciting atmosphere where knowledge meets with experience and creativity, complementing one another.
Following that strong opening session, Minister Tunis embarked upon a whirlwind of further productive engagements tailored to sell Sierra Leone and leverage its huge potential in the bid to position the country as the foremost destination of choice for tourists seeking the thrill of a genuine African experience. While the rest of the tourism team (including the Permanent Secretary Mr Kwame Yanks; Fatmata Mida Carew, General Manager National Tourist Board; Ann-Marie Kamara Administrative Manager Monuments and Relics Commission; Lucinda Kargbo, Marketing Manager National Tourist Board and Kai Saquee PRO National Tourist Board)) was busy meeting with partners and engaging with the steady stream of interested parties visiting the Sierra Leone stall, Minister Tunis was meeting with key players, such as the Secretary General of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the Executive Secretary of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), and Tourism Ministers from countries like Malawi and Jamaica. The Minister took part in television interviews and had one-on-one chats with tourism experts and representatives from organisations seeking to partner with the ministry or just curious to find out more about the country. These engagements created opportunities for the exchange of ideas and for collaborative work.
The ministry continues to use these platforms to convincingly highlight Sierra Leone’s unique endowments and to seek ways to enhance those advantages, in the pursuit of creating educational opportunities and boosting employment prospects for youths. The agreements reached and the prospects for collaborative ventures will inform the emerging phase of the Sierra Leone tourist industry, both in the short as well as in the long term.
Sierra Leone has always been regarded as one of the untapped or hidden gems of Africa, a country which has now started to attract huge interest on the world stage from tour operators, event facilitators, media giants, potential tourists, and other relevant key players in the tourism industry. Following on from a successful attendance on the German Tour sector just last week, officers of the Ministry of Tourism, led by Minister Nabeela Tunis, have been extremely busy at the London sector of the WTM. As the world’s appetite grows towards the exploration of untapped exotic locations, SIERRA LEONE is the new buzzword that is playing in circles that help to generate interest, create value and influence traffic in the right direction.