Nigerian Ambassador to Liberia Chigozie F. Obi Nnadozie has said that for Liberia to develop its tourism sector it need to think outside the box by first indentifying those things that make it unique and that non-Liberians may find intriguing.
She said the communities around the various mines – gold, diamond and iron ore — could be developed in a way that could attract a huge number of visitors to Liberia yearly to see the kinds of activities in those places.
These may include the development or the creation of miniature reproductions of the various stages of extraction of minerals, which could be patterned after the Madurodam in The Hague, Netherlands, Amb. Nnadozie said.
Liberia is blessed with substantial deposits of gold and diamond. Why cannot the country take advantage of these God-given gifts to create wealth for its citizens? Amb. Nnadozie noted, adding: “This is not rocket science it is simple logic.”
The Nigerian Ambassador made these remarks at the 36th anniversary of the United Nation world Tourism Organization (UNWTO) celebration program held under the theme: “One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunity,” by the Ministry of Information
Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County on September 28.
The events brought together cuisines and artifacts from the fifteen counties, including some spectacular performances from the Liberian National culture troupe and Crusader For Peace culture troupe.
Amb.Nnadozie proposed that the government should host a trade fair during certain seasons of the year, in order to showcase the finished products of the mines, attracting more investments and people interested in visiting Liberia.
“This will add value to the natural resources that exist in each particular region of the country,” Amb. Nnadozie said. “This in turn will create jobs for the indigenes of these regions or counties.”
Outlining the trade fair benefits if it is held, Amb. Nnadozie says such an annual project will increase rapid development of the hospitality industry to take care of the needs of the visitors, such as accommodation, transportation and even healthcare services.
Amb. Nnadozie recommend that government should consider leasing these places to well-known and experienced practitioners in this type of endeavor, identifying countries with the proviso that they should train the residents of such communities in the art and trade of the tourism business.
“Such a program could make the citizen acquire the necessary skills that will enable them to open their own businesses in a foreseeable future,” said Amb. Nnadozie.
She warned that the program’s aim should not be intended to take over the investments of foreigners and that “technology transfer when properly articulated could pave the way for Liberians to acquire skills that will make them competitive.”
Amb. Nnadozie encouraged government to also take a keen interest in Eco system tourism since the country is blessed with very lush forests, which should house all sorts of nature, including a variety of birds and exotic animals.
Since Monrovia has been listed the wettest capital in the world, it is very important that a sanctuary for birds is established so as to attract bird watchers to Liberia, Amb. Nnadozie stressed.
“The promotion of tourism, therefore, makes it imperative for cities and villages to promote their natural heritage,” she said, adding that societies should be set up to keep records of historical artifacts, flora and fauna with a view to preserving them for generations to come.
Grand Bassa county Senator Jonathan Kaiplay believes that the major problem to the tourism sector is the lack of suitable and accessible roads and that it will be difficult to attract tourists even if you have the most beautiful site in the world.
“We will have to work on road connectivity as a government, modernizing our airport and improving the nation’s transport system,” Sen. Kaiplay said. “With the absence of this it will be difficult for us to reach that landmark and make Liberia a tourist destination.”
“We have so many things to show the world. We ourselves are responsible for the backwardness of tourism and we need to change our ways in order make Liberia a tourist destination,” Minister of MICAT, Lewis Brown, said.
Min. Brown reaffirms government support to the tourism sector and calls for an increase in budgetary allocation from the tourism department.
Min. Brown named the Kptewee Water Fall, Lake Piso in Grand Cape Mount County, Providence Island, in Monrovia and other beautiful beaches and tourist sites as places to visit with your families, friend or tourist.
In a related message, UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai said this year’s world tourism day is an opportunity to celebrate the transformative potential of one billion tourists.
“Yet this big number represent more than just economic strength, they reflect tourism’s vast potential and increasing capacity to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including socio-economic growth, inclusive development and environmental preservation,” Mr Rifai said.