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Sierra Leone: Sierra leone Tourism Profile


Colourful fishing boats,near Kent,Western Area,Sierra Leone

With its palm-fringed beaches, breathtaking mountains, tropical rainforests and vibrant culture, Sierra Leone is one of West Africa’s most seductive destinations.
Whether you want a winter escape to the sun to some of the best beaches in Africa, to immerse yourself in its rich heritage and traditions or have the freedom to explore the beauty and charm of this undiscovered paradise, Sierra Leone offers an exciting and inspiring adventure to remember.
Experience the unrivalled friendliness and hospitality of our people. Relax at a beach-front baras you watch the sun set over the Atlantic. Lose yourself in the bustling and colourful streets of Freetown. Journey back in time to the dark past of the slave trade. Hike the highest mountain in West Africa. Eat sweet fresh mangos plucked straight from the tree. Wake to the calls of chimpanzees and monkeys in the rainforest...
Sierra Leone has strong potentials for tourism growth. It has excellent beaches and islands, mountains and rich biodiversity, interesting wildlife, friendliness of the people and rich socio-cultural heritage; and it occupies a special place in the world history of anti-slavery movement as ‘the land of freedom’ – hence the name Freetown as its Capital City.
The National Tourist Board had been collecting, compiling and analyzing statistical data on Tourist Arrival by Air, Tourist Establishments, Employment trend etc as part of its role and responsibility long before the inception of the National Strategy for Development of Statistics (NSDS). Within the framework of the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS), the Government of Sierra Leone in 2008 approved the deployment of Statisticians from Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) to eight line ministries including the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs: specifically attached to the National Tourist Board to help in the analysis of statistical indicators compiled by the NTB.


The General Manager National Tourist Board Mr. Cecil J. Williams has stated that the gradual increase in tourist’s arrivals and revenue generated in 2012 is a positive path to achieving the Agenda for Prosperity, which has identified the Tourism Sector as one of the priority sectors for the socio economic development of Sierra Leone.

The National Tourist Board has just compiled and analyzed visitors/tourist arrivals statistics by Air. The results of the analysis indicate that the arrivals witnessed a 14% increase between 2011 and 2012. In 2012, 59,730 tourist or visitors arrived at Lungi International Airport out of which 23,619 were on business, 14,074 for visiting friends and relatives (VFR) 9,464 for leisure purposes 6034 for conferences and 6539 for other reasons.

This compares to 52,442 arrivals in 2011 out of which 18,480 were on business, 9483 for visiting friend and relatives 11,146 for leisure 5,337 for conference purpose and 7,996 for other reasons.

Visitors/ tourists arrivals from Europe continues to account for a percentage of arrivals and in 2012, 15,667 were from this region compare to 12,807 in 2011, 12,445 from Ecowas countries Compared to 11,054, 10,572 from Americas compared to 10,474, 6,252 from other Africa countries compared to 4,598, 6,389 from Asia compared to 5,360, from Asia 4,115 from the Middle East compared to 3485, and 4290 compared to 3664 from Australia & Oceania in 2011

In term of revenue generated from the Tourism Sectors, 2012 accounted for $41.7m revenue generated from local Hotel accommodation, Restaurant, Transportation and souvenirs etc. This is a 13% increase on 2012 revenue which was $36.1m. These data are analyzed using the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) formulae and guidelines.

It is to be noted that the Tourism Sector is one of the largest contribution to the economy. The Sector also contribute revenue to the Government from sources such as GST, corporate taxes, PAYE, collected by NRA, Licenses fees collected by National Tourist Board and the liquor license Board. The multiplier effect tourism is tremendous

Apart from the above, the number of employees in the sector rose from 4,687 2011 to 5,622 in 2012 The based on registered Tourist Establishments but this figure could rise close to 10,000 for all establishment including registered and unregistered facilities countrywide.

Therefore based on the socio cultural parameters developing counties in terms of the benefits the sector brings in sustaining the population, it means the Tourism Sector account for 5 other dependants for every employed in the sector.

Mr. Williams stated that the National Tourist Board is poised to put strategic modality in place in the areas of marketing/promotions, product development, and capacity building so as to make the sector visible and beneficial to the Government and people of Sierra Leone; thereby leading to the socio economic enhancement of the country. It is expected that within 5 years the Tourism Sector would be leading sector in the socio economic development of the country through its multiplier effects.

The General Manager of National Tourist Board stated that with the tourist sector now being given priority as reflected in the 2012 Presidential Address and as espoused in the manifesto of the Government wherein the Board was commended for its aggressive marketing and promotional efforts, it is expected that with more resources that will be provided including appropriate tax incentives to genuine investors and additional infrastructural development, the sector is expected to boost the sector and improve the economy in general.


Revival of the travel and tourism industry in Sierra Leone
Although small in size, Sierra Leone has diverse and unique travel and tourism potential. After years of civil war, the country is in the process of rebuilding its travel and tourism industry. Since the end of the conflict in 2002, the government’s main priority has been to restore peace and stability within each region. Through the Sierra Leone National Tourist Board, it has embarked on several measures to relaunch tourism. The success of these objectives has resulted in tourists renewing their interest in the country with arrival numbers steadily increasing over the review period. This has also stimulated substantial investment and growth in travel and tourism infrastructure in Sierra Leone.
Inbound tourism flows keep improving
In 2009, seven years after the end of the civil war, inbound tourism flows in Sierra Leone are still improving. Although nowhere near the peak of the 1980s and early 1990s tourism boom, visitor arrivals steadily increased over the review period with more and more tourists returning to the country’s white sand beaches and clear blue waters. The number of tourist arrivals was up by 3% in 2009. Guinea and the UK are the main source countries for arrivals. The majority of visitors travelled to Sierra Leone by air and were there for leisure reasons. With peace and stability reigning in the country, the government has been seeking ways to overturn the negative image of Sierra Leone. It is working to attract more tourists by showing the world a different side of the country through its participation in international travel and tourism fairs.
Government efforts to improve foreign direct investment
Although Sierra Leone is an emerging destination, the country holds a variety of tourist attractions that offer potential investors tremendous possibilities and opportunities. With the nation now shifting gear from stabilisation to growth, its untapped potential has been generating unprecedented interest from foreign private investors; however, many areas of business in Sierra Leone need legislative change. The government has been making efforts to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) and has recently passed a number of laws to improve the business climate in the country. The new laws are expected to have an instant effect on the operational landscape of Sierra Leone’s private sector and also boost investor confidence in the country.
Enormous untapped potential for eco-tourism development
Eco-tourism remains an important part of tourism development in Sierra Leone. Even though many forests and much wildlife were either disturbed or destroyed during the civil war between 1991 and 2002, the government is aware of the importance of conserving and protecting the environment to develop travel and tourism in the country. It has adopted a policy of developing Sierra Leone as a mid-range and upmarket tourist destination. Many parks and reserves have been established to protect the country’s wildlife, and they are slowly developing and improving their infrastructure to better accommodate tourists. This policy will ensure that eco-tourism activities are controlled and maintained in line with the needs of tourists, local communities and the nation as a whole.
Bright prospects for Sierra Leone’s travel and tourism industry
Travel and tourism in Sierra Leone is in a period of rapid transition, despite the slowdown of economic growth in developed countries that generate tourism flows inbound to developing nations. The future of travel and tourism is becoming more and more hopeful as the country continues to show signs of regaining its lost paradise status. The emphasis put on travel and tourism development by the government through the Sierra Leone National Tourist Board (SLNTB), will continue to develop the country’s travel and tourism industry over the forecast period. Through the government’s efforts, the country stands to benefit from a favourable global tourism trend as the recession is showing signs of levelling out. With its travel and tourism industry still at a developing stage, Sierra Leone could have a major long-term advantage by exploiting international tourism.