By J. H. Webster Clayeh
Monrovia — The Ghanaian Ambassador to Liberia Ernest B. Asare Asiedu says Liberia’s tourism sector can be relevant in the booming marketplace of world tourism if the country privatizes the sector.
The Ghanaian Ambassador made the remark when the government of Liberia joined other countries around the World in commemoration of the 39th Anniversary of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Day on September 27, 2018.
The event was held at the historic Providence Island and the theme for this year’s celebration is “tourism and the digital transformation”.
September 27 is observed as the World Tourism Day since the statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organization were adopted on this day in the year 1970.
The world tourism day official celebration was held in Budapest, Hungary – a country which is steadily enjoying the growth of tourism backed by consistent policy support and a commitment to the digital future.
Despite many of the areas being neglected and desecrated, Liberia, which is the oldest country in Africa, has some of the world’s most historical sites, ranging from mountains, lakes, rivers, including the historical Providence island – where the first freed slaves from the United States arrived when they were brought back to the continent.
The Providence Island dates almost 200 years back. It is still carrying some historical features like the trees that the settlers and the indigenous sat under to negotiate the land and the first well that the settlers used to fetch water.
Giving the keynote speech, Ghana Ambassador Asiedu said tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in many countries including those in the West African region.
“I believe it is the reason why we in Liberia are gathered in this specific place, Providence Island, which we have so much neglected and desecrated [because] this is a huge resource that is crying for exploitation,” the Ghanaian Ambassador said.
“It is pregnant with unquantifiable riches, but we seem to pay no heed. Could we work to develop this huge resource through a Public Private Partnership arrangement devoid of overbearing bureaucracy and political interference?”
The Ghanaian Ambassador noted that the sustainability of the tourism sector is key once a carefully crafted policy is put in place by the government.
According to Ambassador Asiedu, Infrastructural needs, development and incentives, human resource development, training facilities and content development along with Incentive packages are key to identify the potentials of Liberia’s tourism sector.
He explains: “The encouragement of domestic tourism; start at the inter-school and inter-college level sports and games competition, adopting festivals like the Kukatornon Peace Festival as a real national celebration that invites governments, international organizations and personalities to participate.”
Renovate existing national infrastructure such as Ducor Palace Hotel, Hotel Africa and other sites using public-private partnership arrangement, he advised.
Also reading the world Tourism day message on behalf of Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, Chiquita A. Johnson, Liberia’s Tourism Consultant said this year’s World Tourism Day is highlighting the need for investment in disruptive digital technologies that can help foster an environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in tourism.
“The digital transformation is about providing benefits to all, and we are making sure that tourism contributes to this global commitment,” she said.