The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with Statistics Sierra Leone on Monday 13th January 2020 published the National Tourism Census Report at the Miata Conference Hall in Freetown. The report identifies and captures an array of tourist establishments and assets across the country to form a comprehensive database while contributing towards the digitalization of the sector through geospatial mapping of tourism assets and establishment. The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Memunatu Pratt, said the report is the first national tourism geographic information census data conducted jointly by MoTCA and Statistics. “A country that does not have a geo-mapping of its tourism assets and facilities and sites is promoting tourism from a blind perspective,” she said. The goal of the survey was to provide information for the growth and development of the tourism industry. She said tourism is considered one of the diversification strategies for the economy. “We have developed beaches, issued visas on arrival, entertainment centres, restoration of cultural and historic sites as well as hotels and guest houses.” Meanwhile, the National Tourism Census report was conducted over a period of seven days. It focuses on tourism assets in the country such as accommodation facilities, restaurants, nightclubs and bars, historical sites, beaches, islands, important rivers, forests, lakes, national parks, cultural sites, art and craft industries and more.
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There are 459 accommodation facilities (guest houses and hotels). Only 56% were registered with the National Tourism Board (NTB) while the remaining 44% were unregistered. Only 0.7% of the hotels have 100-150 rooms. The vast majority of accommodation sites are facilities with less than ten rooms representing 47.1% of the facilities. Only 39.9% of guest houses and 25.4% hotels advertise digitally while only 17.0% and 19.6% of both guest houses and hotels own websites. The minimal use of digital technology has placed tourism establishments in Sierra Leone in a competitively disadvantaged position. The census highlighted the lack of efficient and effective energy supply as a major challenge. Water supply was another problem area. The report shows that the three main sources of energy are electricity (grid) 54.9%, generator 38.6% and solar 4.1%. Water problems plague the tourist sector. There are three main water sources, pipe borne 28.5%, well 55.6%, and tank 14.4%. Transportation was another challenge highlighted by the report, which indicated that 52.5% of visitors travel to tourist facilities by motorbike, 19% by tricycle (Kekeh), 27.5% by car 0.7% by sea. The roads are also in bad shape to most of the tourist attractions.
By David Thoronka
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