The President of Sierra Leone, Dr Julius Maada Bio, has announced that 4.8 billion Leones (US$ 480,016) will be allocated to support the tourism and hospitality sectors and help address the revenues and jobs they lost as a result of COVID-19.
The tourism and hospitality sectors have been severely affected since Sierra Leone reported its first COVID-19 case in March this year. President Maada Bio says the support will mitigate the impact of the pandemic and reduce the economic burden on workers in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
The President announced, “Based on the data collected, I am therefore pleased to announce that my Government has allocated 4,883,840,000 Leones to the hospitality sector as Social Safety Net Wage Bill support.
This is a three-month wage compensation package that will serve a total of 2,363 workers in the hospitality sector.”
President Bio assures that the amount will be distributed equally and fairly to every Sierra Leonean who is registered across the country, irrespective of region, ethnicity and gender.
He says that his government will address key sector challenges at a very early stage of the pandemic with the support of the World Bank. He outlined that the collaboration with the World Bank has resulted in the development of a Strategic Tourism Development Master Plan, a National Tourism Marketing Strategy, an Island Tourism Development Policy, a Tourism and Wildlife Development Policy, an Accommodation Standards and Classification Manual, and an Investor Perception Survey, among other initiatives.
President Bio noted, “International tour operators have shown a more than keen interest in Sierra Leone tourism recently.” In response to this growth in interest, he noted seven measures the government will endeavour to implement. This includes, “(i) improving the policy and legal environment; (ii) developing tourism sites and products; (iii) developing tourism infrastructure; (iv) improving, promoting and marketing our country’s unique image as a safe site for great tourism experiences; (v) developing skills that serve the tourism sector; and (vi) diversifying our tourism products”.
The President was speaking in a meeting with the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board, the Hotel and Tourism Association at Radisson, and other relevant stakeholders in the private sector at Blu, Freetown on 13 August 2020.
Read the press release for more information.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of UK aid and the programme partners.