Traders at the Freetown ‘Big Market’ have requested government to immediately design a policy to open up the Tourism Industry in the country. Balkisu Kamara, one of the longest serving traders in the market, narrated that before the war, there used to be mass influx of Tourists and other holiday makers into the country, who were attracted to the market. She said that since the war broke out Tourists visitation has come to a halt.
At the height of the war, she said, the market was razed to ashes; but towards the end of the war, after the market was refurbished by government, UNOMSIL troops and other UN staff in the country were consistently transacting business with them at the market.
The Freetown ‘Big Market” she maintained, has the potential to contribute enormously to the national revenue if government takes the initiative to open up the industry to attract more Tourists.
“We only contribute Le 500 as dues to the Freetown City Council on a daily basis, for storage facilities” she revealed.
She further explained that under the prevailing circumstances they hardly realize dividend from business, except during the peak season which falls between November and December every year, when holiday makers from Europe and America come home for holidays.
“With the absence of Tourists and UN Peace-keepers, we only now rely on sales from local items, such as: sweeping broom, drums, local wedding gifts, calabash, mortar, needle and tread” she explained.
“We realize very little from our day to day transactions, but as a way of enhancing cooperation among members of the market, we have put in place ‘Osusu’ savings, on daily , weekly and monthly basis to keep life going” she added. The Chairman of ‘carving traders’, Mamoud Keita, also stressed that government should do something towards the revitalization of the Tourism Industry.
He explained that some foreign missionaries use to come around; but they had ceased coming as their intention to under value the items was backfired.
“Our market is extremely dwindled, we only now rely on errand boys to hawk our items around Lumley and Aberdeen Beaches, where some hotel guests spend time” he stated.
By Solomon Rogers