Businessman Folebole Kromah is currently visiting Liberia from the United States of America. When he drove to his native Sanniquellie, Nimba County, we can only guess that this young man immediately remembered the beautiful and vast tourist attractions and other modern developments he left behind in the USA.
Once in Sanniquellie, he could not help but cry for his beloved country—to quote the South African author Alan Paton—when Kromah saw the pitifully dilapidated condition of one of the most treasured scenes of his childhood, Lake Tileh.
On his return to Monrovia, he immediately contacted Daily Observer Environmental Correspondent, Edwin Fayia, before whom Kromah cried. Why, why, he tearfully asked Reporter Fayia, have the Liberian government and Nimba people allowed Lake Tileh to become so run down and even a garbage dumpsite?
Can’t we see, he asked, that the country could create many jobs and make a lot of money from tourism by paying attention to tourist sites like Lake Tileh and so many other wonderful scenes in our country?
The Daily Observer, has long pointed to some of these remarkable scenes and urged that serious efforts to turn them into tourist attractions will bring thousands, even millions of people from around the world to vacation in our beautiful country.
Over eight years ago we sent our photojournalist Sando Moore to Cape Mount, the land of his mother, to take pictures of the county’s great tourist attractions. Among them are the Cape Mount Mountain, the vast, picturesque Lake Piso (Fisherman’s Lake) and Robertsport, the county capital’s beautiful beaches, where hundreds of foreign residents from Monrovia and elsewhere flock every weekend to relax and surf.
We have constantly argued that Cape Mount alone could contribute significantly to Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), if only its vast tourist potential could be realized. Several five star hotels could be erected along its pristine beaches and lake. Imagine the amount of income and jobs these could generate!
As for Nimba County, there is Lake Tileh, which the visionary Liberian agriculturist, legendary patriarch and builder, George Dunbar, built while serving as Central Province District Commissioner (1932-1940). Folebole Kromah knew this lake as a child, and never forgot it.
We understand that Nimba boasts another tourist attraction—a waterfall in Ganta, the county’s commercial capital. There is also the Ganta Methodist Mission, where American tourists especially, would like to visit, for it is there that the legendary anthropologist and medical missionary, Dr. George Way Harley, founder and builder of Ganta Mission, is buried. The rock church and the Ganta Hospital, both of which he built, are situated on its campus. There is also the Leper Colony, where lepers produce some of the finest Liberian handicraft.
There is in Sanniquellie, too, the Central High School, venue of the historic Sanniquellie Conference, forerunner to the OAU. At a special section of the school could be displayed the documents, photographs and related items from that Conference.
Many other great tourist attractions, including Voinjama, rich in elephants, and the Sapo Forest Reserve, home to the pygmy hippopotamus and many other rare wildlife. Buttressing all this is Liberia’s rich culture, found everywhere in its virgin, traditional form.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has spoken of a Tourism Development Authority, which is an excellent idea yet to be implemented. She has to look hard and find a Chairperson for that office, one who not only knows how to organize, but who is passionate about tourism and is determined to see Liberia recover all the lost opportunities in tourism development.
One of the Tourism Chair’s first challenges is to find experienced and well financed tourism developers who will rebuild Monrovia’s Ducor Intercontinental Hotel, its second wing and the Ducor Towers. The land on Snapper Hill is available for all of this expansion.
The Tourism Chair’s next challenge will be to scout the country, beginning with Grand Cape Mount County, and on to Harper, Maryland County, its Atlantic beaches and Lake Shepherd, and on to River Cess, home of Baffu Bay and one of the nation’s most gorgeous spots, and uncover the immense but hidden tourist attractions. These could, if properly exploited, unleash a tourism and employment boom in Liberia.