Year: 2019

Freetown Forum – Agenda for Action on Women’s Empowerment in Tourism

We, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with development partners, acknowledge the following:

  1. Tourism accounts for an estimated 10.4% of the world’s GDP, considering its direct, indirect and induced impacts (WTTC, 2019), and the tourism sector accounts directly for 3% of the GDP of the G20 economies (UNWTO, 2019);
  2. Globally, tourism represents one of the fastest-growing and resilient economic activities – forecasts indicate that tourism will experience sustained growth in the coming years, reaching 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals in 2030, up from 4 billion in 2018 (UNWTO, 2019);
  3. Tourism is one of the main sectors driving economic integration and socio-economic development, and creating jobs in many other sectors, including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, retail, handicrafts, cultural and creative industries, financial services, information and communication technologies (World Bank, 2017);
  4. Tourism accounts for a higher share of women’s employment and entrepreneurship as compared to the whole economy, and is a driving force for social inclusion including, but not limited to, women, young people, persons with disabilities, migrants, indigenous and tribal peoples, and rural populations (UNWTO, 2019);
  5. Tourism is a sector made up mostly of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)  providing   major   opportunities  for young and female entrepreneurial talent, and for integrating SMEs and start-ups into the value chain (G20 Osaka leaders);

Taking into consideration:

  1. The 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, Chapter II, Section 9(1) and 9(2) (a) of provides for gender equality in education and outline directives that secure women’s rights to equitable access to and benefit from education and the 17.2 Education Act 2004;
  2. That nationally, the empowerment of women, youth and persons with disabilities is a core component of the Medium- Term National Development Plan (2019-2023) and tourism is a priority sector in the New Direction Agenda;
  3. The National Policy on Gender Mainstreaming (2000) the National Policy on Women’s Empowerment (2000), the National Action Plan on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace, and Security, (2000), and the Local Content Policy of the National Tourism Policy and National Cultural Policy;
  4. The Chieftaincy Act No. 10 of 2009, Section 8 that makes women eligible to contest for and become Paramount Chiefs, the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Bill, which establishes a minimum of 30 percent representation of women in governance at all levels;
  5. The Africa Agenda 2063, Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the G20 Osaka Tourism Ministers Declaration on Advancing Tourism’s Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  6. The seven key findings of the Global Report on Women and Tourism Second Edition, 2019 which state:
  1. Targeted interventions by public, private and civil society actors, such as promoting equal pay, tackling sexual harassment and recruiting women into high-level employment, help to promote decent work for women in tourism.
  2. Gender-sensitive legal and macroeconomic policies at the national level increase women’s economic empowerment in the tourism sector when they are implemented effectively.
  3. Investment in skills training for women, including training on soft skills and awareness-raising on available training opportunities, and gender equality training across the sector lead to greater outcomes for gender equality.
  4. Gender equality strategies for the tourism sector are vital for women’s empowerment, and must be backed by institutional and budgetary support.
  5. Women can be empowered politically and socially through tourism when links are made with the broader community and civil society organizations.
  6. When targeted gender-sensitive training is provided and women have access to appropriate technology,  the digitalization of tourism can offer exciting new opportunities for women’s innovation and empowerment.
  7. The availability of sex-disaggregated tourism data allows for better-targeted gender equality interventions in the sector and leads to greater women‘s empowerment.

Agree to work with policymakers, businesses, national and local government authorities, cooperatives, international organizations and NGOs towards implementation of the 2019 UNWTO Global Report on Women and Tourism Action Plan.

Action Plan


Take measures to tackle the gender pay gap in tourism.

Address social protection and unpaid work for women in tourism.

Systematically address the sexual harassment of women workers in the tourism sector, as well as issues of harassment in tourism communities against community members and travellers.

Develop and institutionalize gender equality strategies for the tourism sector.

Challenge gender-stereotypes in tourism sub-occupations.


Work to ensure that women’s tourism businesses can become formalized, if they wish to be, and contribute to women’s financial inclusion.

Expand and diversify women’s market access and fair trade for their tourism products and services.

Support women to expand and diversify their tourism products and services.

Introduce measures to improve women’s work-life balance in tourism and encourage an equal division of unpaid care work in tourism communities.

Expand women’s access to digital technologies, including digital tourism platforms.

Leadership, policy and decision-making

Work towards gender balance in senior management of tourism companies.

Address the lack of high-level women’s leadership in decision- making spaces in the private sector, public sector tourism bodies and agencies.

Ensure International Labor Organization (ILO) policies on maternity and care responsibilities are respected.

Actively support women’s representation and leadership in trade unions.

Education and training

Develop training programs for women in tourism, including training on soft skills, networking and high-level training for career progression.

Provide targeted training for women to ensure that they can use digital technologies to innovate through digital technologies in tourism.

Provide gender equality training for tourism policy-makers, managers and employees.

Encourage the participation of female students and graduates in tourism studies and qualifications.

Community and civil society

Facilitate women’s voice in the community and household decision-making.

Ensure gender equality and human rights commitments at the national level are met and implemented effectively.

Support women’s tourism networks, NGOs and tourism cooperatives to actively work towards women’s empowerment in the sector.

Measurement for better policies

Regularly collect and report data that is disaggregated by sex on employment in the tourism sector and, where possible, formal and informal tourism employment, gender pay gaps, entrepreneurship, education and training, leadership and decision-making, time use and work-life balance.

Regularly provide data disaggregated by sex on employment in the tourism sector to UNWTO.

Conduct gender analysis, consult civil society actors, integrate a gender perspective into all phases of the tourism policy and program cycle.


In collaboration with

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs has embarked on a nationwide assessment of natural, historic and cultural sites.

Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs embarks on an assessment of natural, historic and cultural sites

The process which started on Friday, November 16, 2019, saw five teams comprising officials of the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board, Monuments and Relics Commission and other stakeholders visiting various sites in the country.


Funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the exercise was done to assess the existing status of touristic and potential touristic sites principally natural and heritage assets.

A good number of natural and heritage sites in Sierra Leone present a barrage of conservation challenges that must be arrested to save them from further deterioration and degradation.

Some of the sites visited include the slave castle, Bunce Island, Tasso, and Banana Island, River No 2 and Lakka beaches, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Tiwai Island, Outamba Kilimi National Park, Old Fourah Bay College and others.

According to the Director of Tourism who doubles as the Head of this activity, Mohamed Jalloh, the exercise would aid the Ministry and her development partners take the necessary action to safeguard them from the effects of climate change, erosion, environmental impact and other conditions that were inimical to their continued existence.

Through this assessment, the Ministry would tackle management challenges while equally taking action to do a proper restoration.

Sierra Leone’s cultural and natural assets have suffered long years of neglect arising in part from the non-prioritization of the tourism industry by previous administrations.

Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Memunatu Pratt says they were doing everything humanly possible to transform the economic status of Sierra Leone through tourism.

President Julius Maada Bio also promised to diversify the country’s economy through tourism.

One way of promoting tourism, not least heritage, and cultural tourism is to assess the status of the sites and restore or conserve where necessary.

The exercise which lasted for three or four days produced a compelling outcome which if implemented, would bolster local tourism while still promoting inbound tourism.

This national exercise was coordinated by the Director of Tourism.


The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs as a panelist in the First Regional Congress on Women’s Empowerment in the Tourism Sector in Accra, Ghana.

The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs as a panelist in the First Regional Congress on Women’s Empowerment in the Tourism Sector in Accra, Ghana.

The Congress aims to discuss strategies and actions to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in tourism.





“Celebrating women’s empowerment through tourism entrepreneurship”


To disseminate the findings of the UNWTO Global Report on Women Enterprise Survey in Ghana and in Sierra Leon, and to discuss and identify key policy recommendations to promote women’s empowerment through tourism entrepreneurship.

Note that Women’s contribution to the economy of Sierra Leone is well below its fullest potential. In must sectors of the economy women entrepreneurs are are disadvantaged and face considerable challenges in growing their businesses.
In line with UN SDG 5:

to achieve gender equality and empower    women and girls. it is important to raise awareness of these issues and start to find sustainable solutions. Therefore, tourism is the correct and smart entry point for action.

Tourism is a priority sector for the Government of Sierra Leone. Tourism has been shown globally to provide more opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship and advancement than other sectors of the economy.


1. Greater awareness and understanding of the constraints facing women’s economic empowerment and gender mainstream in the tourism sector.

2. Increase interest in women’s entrepreneurship within the tourism sector in Sierra Leone and the sub region.

3. Stakeholder commitment towards action to promote women in tourism in Sierra Leone.


Visa-On-Arrival to Sierra Leone

As part of government’s commitment to promote tourism and attract foreign direct investment, the Government of Sierra Leone wishes to inform the general public, airline operators, Sierra Leone Embassies and Missions overseas, International Air Transport Association (IATA), international partners and other government bodies that with effect from Thursday 5th September 2019, a new Visa on Arrival policy has been rolled-out for persons from the following countries or blocs:

  • United Kingdom Citizens
  • European Union Citizens
  • United States Citizens
  • Citizens of Commonwealth member countries
  • Citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council member countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman)
  • Citizens of the BRICS Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa)
  • Citizens of the following countries:
    • Lebanon
    • Iran
    • Cambodia
    • Vietnam
    • Singapore
    • Indonesia
    • Thailand
    • Turkey
    • Japan
    • South Korea
    • Norway
    • Israel
    • Bolivia
    • East Timor
    • Macau
    • Samoa
    • Tuvalu

Below are the visa fees for ease of reference:

  • ECOWAS nationals – Visa-free
  • Non-Ecowas AU nationals – USD 25.00
  • All other countries – USD 80.00

Citizens of ECOWAS states and all other countries with which Sierra Leone has visa-free agreements will continue to enjoy visa-free access.

Citizens of countries not listed above are required to visit the nearest Sierra Leone Embassy or Mission abroad to secure visas prior to visiting Sierra Leone. All persons coming to Sierra Leone for the purpose other than tourism, visit or business needs to apply for a visa before undertaken such travel. We wish to reassure all potential visitors of a continuing hassle-free visa processing experience.


Exhibiting Sierra Leone at the biggest World Travel Market in London

Sierra Leone is set to participate in one of the World’s biggest gathering of the tourism sector, the World Travel Market, London.

World Travel Market London introduces global travel buyers to countries, the biggest destinations and brands in the world. WTM London prides itself on being the hub of travel ideas.

They aim to give sector players, the global travel trade insight into how the industry will look in the next five years, share innovations, and create endless business opportunities over the course of three days.

Sierra Leone was an attractive destination for tourists from across the world but that changed following a decade of civil strife.

The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led Government of President Julius Maada Bio campaigned to diversify the economy through tourism by improving the policy and legal environment, developing infrastructure, rehabilitating and developing historic and cultural sites, developing skills in tourism and promoting, marketing and improving the international image of Sierra Leone.

Hence the participation in such Exhibitions.

The advantages of participating in these events are manifold.
It gives Sierra Leone an opportunity to engage and connect with her target audience face-to-face. Participating in an event where over 51,000 international travel professionals, from more than 38 sectors of the travel industry are present is no mean feat. It provides an enviable opportunity to meet, network, negotiate and conduct business with key decision-makers in the travel industry.

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board and Monuments and Relics Commission would use this exhibition to position the country as a must-visit destination. Her presence would ensure that it is seen by the people that matter and offer an opportunity to truly stand out as a brand in a place where the travel industry congregates.

By participating in such events, the nation grows her exposure and position her brand as a destination that worth travellers’ attention – there’s no better place than the hub of travel ideas to present that brand.

The competitive edge of showcasing the ecotourism and adventure tourism potentials of this great nation cannot be overemphasized. Our brand presence at the show is significant but we also get an insight into what other businesses and countries are doing.

With the newly launched Visa-on-Arrival facility, the country needs to launch that new product to Tour Operators. WTM London gives the perfect platform to launch any new products people may have in front of a large engaged audience. Create your hype.

The event which runs from the 4th-6th November 2019 takes place at ExCel Exhibition Centre in London. Around 300,000 new business connections are made each year at these events where over 3,000 journalists from around the world are present.

International French Tourism Market (IFTM) Top Resa 2019 – Marketing Sierra Leone at the French Tourism Market

As first day of Tourism Trade Show ends, greater prospects await Sierra Leone’s tourism Sector.

Reversing the seemingly unending negative image of Sierra Leone is perhaps the most difficult task that the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs is faced with.

It follows a decade long Civil War, an Ebola Epidemic and a natural disaster Mudslide.

Tourism Minister, Memunatu Pratt was appointed a year and half ago, she has been making strides aimed at re-branding the country.

At the International French Tourism Market (IFTM) Top Resa 2019 she affirmed the need to intensify the marketing of Sierra Leone as an enviable tourist destination.

She, together with her delegation visited various Stands, held meetings with Tour Operators and Travel Agents, other tourism professionals.

Every year, thousands of Exhibitors converge at Porte de Versailles, Paris, France to showcase their tourism potentials.

“Reconnecting with the French Market could be one of the greatest achievements of the Sierra Leone Tourism Sector.” remarked the General Manager of the National Tourist Board, Fatmata Abe-Osagie.

Such is the importance that the Diplomatic Community attaches to the event that Sierra Leone’ s Ambassador to Belgium, Samuel Tamba Musa remarked that they would do everything humanly possible to market the nation. He displayed messages inviting the world to invest in the country.

The Parliamentary Chairman of the Tourism Committee, Hon Mohamed Sheriff Rahman Coker says Sierra Leone can only continue to attract more tourists when “we create the enabling environment and legislate appropriate laws.

Tourism is Life and Golden Tulip are the only private sector representatives from Sierra Leone, they were confident that tourism will gradually take centre-stage in the country’s development agenda.

The event continues on Wednesday and ends on Friday 4th October, 2019.

Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs
National Tourist Board
Monuments and Relics Commission
Media and Communication
+232 76387711

Photos – Miss Sierra Leone 2019

Photos from Miss Sierra Leone 2019 beauty pageant.


The Telegraph – Is Sierra Leone about to become African tourism’s next big thing?


Sue Watt, Travel Writer

2 September 2019 • 10:20am

With big ears, brown eyes and a nappy wrapped around him, little Caesar has no idea that he represents his homeland. His mother was killed when he was just eight weeks old (he is now aged seven months) and he has since been cared for by a woman called Mama P.

I watch as she holds the baby chimp in her arms, lulling him with soft “Oooh-ooh-ooh” noises. Tenderly, Caesar strokes her face, pulls down her paper mask and raises his hirsute fingers to her lips to be kissed. Caesar’s home is Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, a country that has had a rough ride of late. The government recently announced that the chimpanzee is to be its national animal, representing the face of wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism for the future.

With a troubled past, this small West African country doesn’t immediately spring to mind as a tourist destination. Its decade-long civil war, fuelled by the diamond industry, ended in 2002 at the cost of 50,000 lives. In 2014, just as the country was recovering – thanks to remarkable reconciliation efforts and a rejuvenated mining industry – Ebola arrived, killing almost 4,000 people. Sierra Leone went into lockdown for two long and lonely years. Then, in 2017, a horrific mudslide struck the capital Freetown, causing around 1,000 deaths. But Sierra Leone, known locally as Sweet Salone, is shaking off the shackles of its grim past: now peaceful and Ebola-free, it deserves a new narrative.

The chimpanzee is to become the national animal, representing the face of wildlife conservation Credit: GETTY

“Sierra Leone has changed,” George Balassis tells me. He is the general manager of upmarket Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel where I am staying on Lumley Beach, Freetown’s buzzing nightlife strip. “It’s a country that believes in itself now, that’s growing stronger and more confident by the day.”

The country’s revived focus on tourism reflects that new self-belief. Visitor numbers are gradually increasing and new hotels including the Hilton are opening, Silversea cruises are sailing back, and pioneering holiday companies such as Rainbow Tours are returning.

Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, five hours east of Freetown, exemplifies the country’s potential. An idyllic destination for nature lovers, the uninhabited island on the river Moa measures just 4.6 sq miles yet is home to 135 species of birds, around 80 rare pygmy hippos and 11 primate species, one of the highest concentrations in the world, including chimps and Diana monkeys. We are welcomed with warm smiles by the people of Kambama, one of eight neighbouring communities supported by Tiwai.

That afternoon, we explore by kayak as hornbills whoosh past overhead and palm fronds rattle in the breeze. In the stillness, a guide suddenly calls out “Mah-le” in an excited whisper. “Pygmy hippo” our poler translates, rushing us towards the riverbank. Someone in the first kayak sees a backside scurrying into the forest but it’s vanished before we get there. It seems the monkeys have vanished too, save for shadowy figures cavorting in the canopy at dusk.

Kayaking on the Moa Credit: WILL WHITFORD

We stay at Tiwai’s only camp, sleeping on mattresses in dome tents on sheltered platforms. Damaged by storms in 2015, it looks tired but is clean and comfortable, has a solar-powered dining area, hot showers and flushing lavatories.

Next morning, on a dark, pre-dawn walk, guide Kenewa Korma interprets the noises of nature’s alarm clocks. A rolling cackle, like a cranky car revving up, is “black and white colobus saying good morning to each other”. The quiet gulps are red colobus; rapid grunts are sooty mangabeys. And that pungent smell that hits us now and then is simply “monkey aroma”.

As dawn approaches, the rainforest becomes visible – we are walking through bamboo as high as houses, mahoganies, palms and vines, and finally spot monkeys moving in the canopy to sounds like shrieking babies. “That’s the colobus sexing!” Kenewa explains with the noise ascending to a curdling crescendo as the monkey mating reaches its climax.

In dense rainforest, Tiwai’s monkeys can seem elusive despite their high concentration and you probably won’t see pygmy hippos mooching along the riverbank. But the island’s natural beauty, with honey-coloured beaches and towering trees, is truly special.

The Western Peninsula coastline is special too: jungle-clad mountains meet sandy shores in vivid tiers of green, gold and blue. A three-hour drive takes us to Tokeh, lying between Bureh Beach renowned for surfing and the palm-fringed River No 2 Beach, which evoked “the taste of paradise” in Eighties Bounty ads.

“The island’s natural beauty, with honey-coloured beaches and towering trees, is truly special” Credit: GETTY

Our luxury hotel, The Place, has 54 chic chalets, a swimming pool, and a glass-fronted bar and restaurant overlooking the ocean. We amble along the shore, watching children playing football while women balance baskets of bread on their heads and fishermen sail off in wooden dhows. We swim in the warm Atlantic waters, sip chilled wine on sunbeds and dine on fresh lobster, a world away from what most people imagine Sierra Leone to be.

Freetown, an hour away, brings us back to earth. Despite the poverty here – Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries – it’s a vibrant, frenetic and friendly city squashed between forested hills and the sea. Born of freedom in the late 18th century when slaves returned from England, its name evokes its heritage from slave-trade centre to sanctuary.

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Nowhere is the poignancy of the slave trade more evident than on Bunce Island, 40 minutes by motorboat from Freetown. Between 1668 and 1807, around 50,000 men, women and children were incarcerated in this once-imposing fort before leaving for America’s southern states. Neglected for centuries and smothered by vines and strangler figs, the eerie ruin is finally being restored. Our guide brings the past alive, showing us cannons on the ramparts still pointing out to sea, the graveyard with still-legible tombstones of slave masters, the cells where ordinary people, once sold, were branded with red-hot irons. We walk in silence, immersed in the island’s inhumane brutality and haunting melancholy.

Ruins on Bunce Island Credit: GETTY

In Freetown, we wander past slatted plantation houses on Pademba Road where freed settlers first lived and stand under the 500-year-old Cotton Tree, more than 100ft tall, where slaves prayed under its boughs. Today, fruit bats dangle surreally from branches, their squeals competing with the din of traffic and tuk tuks. We see the worn stone “slave steps” at King Jimmy Wharf, now a manic market selling everything from grains, vegetables and fruit to plastic pots and flip-flops. The city has mellow moments too: back in Lumley, we sip G&Ts at a beach bar listening to smooth reggae as the sun sets.

On our last day, we visit Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary spanning 100 acres of forest near Freetown. Sharing a deep bond with Freetown’s communities, the sanctuary teaches schoolchildren about conservation, offers scholarships and currently employs 40 local people. Founded in 1995, it has endured war and Ebola and today is home to 89 chimps (including that beautiful baby Caesar) orphaned through the illegal bushmeat trade or rescued from captivity.

“We rescued 10 babies last year,” manager Aram Kazandjian explains. “For each one rescued, it’s estimated poachers have killed up to 10 chimps. Sierra Leone has around 5,500 chimpanzees: if we don’t act, they’ll likely be extinct within 10 years.”

In rural areas where chimps are most threatened, Tacugama educates and works with more than 40 communities. It is planning a national ecolodge circuit taking in Loma for West Africa’s highest mountain, Mobondah for rare manatees and Jaibui Island, Tiwai’s neighbour, for those elusive pygmy hippos. And Tacugama Sanctuary itself has six rustic ecolodges with hiking trails, birding tours, jazz nights and yoga retreats. I wish I’d stayed the night here, waking up to chimps’ squeals and birdsong.

The primates live in huge fenced enclosures. As we walk around, one cheeky chimp throws stones at us, then sits by the pond acting all innocent. Nearby, Mortes and Perry groom each other quietly. “Mortes was the alpha male here but Perry has taken over. They’re still friends,” Aram says. “Chimps share 98.6 per cent of human DNA and they show emotions just like us – joy, happiness, I often see them kissing.”

As we leave, we pass Caesar again, still cuddling Mama P. With chimps symbolising the nation’s future, Tacugama has a starring role in the new Sierra Leone. Much like the sanctuary’s homeland and its people, together they have survived the toughest of times but their soul and indomitable spirit shine through.

“Sierra Leone is shaking off the shackles of its grim past. It deserves a new narrative.” Credit: GETTY

How to do it

Rainbow Tours (020 8131 8473; offers an eight-night trip to Sierra Leone with return international flights on Brussels Airlines from £2,795pp sharing. The price includes two nights in Freetown, two nights at Tacugama, two nights at Tiwai Island, one night at Banana Islands, and one night at Tokeh (all on a B&B basis except at Tiwali island, which is full board), plus all transfers and activities including a trip to Bunce Island.


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