Tourism according to the United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is one of the strongest drivers of world trade and prosperity especially for developing countries.
In many developing countries, tourism serve as an engine for foreign exchange earnings and also create employment for the citizenry. Research has shown that tourism contributes over 5% of the world GDP, accounts for about 6% of the world exports and also responsible for over 235 million jobs in the world.
Every year millions of tourists travel around the world to see and have an experience with different cultures and people thereby boosting the economy of those countries with beautiful tourist attractions.
Why is Liberia not a major tourist destination despite our nature beautiful environment with many tourist attractions?
Liberia as a country by itself is a tourist attraction, the country being the first and oldest independent state on the continent of Africa and the rich history of the country establishment is enough for tourism activities.
The west African nation is blessed with many natural tourist attractions, some of these natural tourist destinations are the History Providence island in Monrovia, the island that hosted the first batch of free slaves from America, Lake Piso in Grand Cape Mount County with a it beautiful view and blue water, the Kpatawee and Wongan waterfalls in Bong county, the hanging Island in Grand Cape Mount county, the unnamed waterfall in Gbarpolu county, the beautiful green forest and Mountains with interesting stories etc.
Despite the huge number of poverty and unemployment in Liberia, the country has not been able to take advantage of these natural tourist attractions that would generate revenue and employment fo the many unemployed youth.
As a means of generating revenue and poverty alleviation, it about time that government invest in the tourism.
How can the government develop this sector?
Tourism in some west African countries and least developed countries like the Gambia and Tanzania is viable and economic development option and Liberia as County should not only depend on depend on her natural resources. The country must invest in the tourism sector.
The country must draw up a clear polices and programs to develop this sector. The government through the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and tourism must a proper mapping and catalog all tourist attractions in the country.
There must be the Liberia Tourism Authority in Liberia, the tourism authority as separate entity, the government can clearly put in place plans and programs that can generate revenue for the country and there can proper monitoring system to check the viability of the tourism sector of Liberia.
Also, there must be a national tourism magazine, the magazine should highlight all tourist destinations in the country, copies of the magazine should be available at major hotels for visitors to read about our country rich tourist destinations.
Finally, there must be serious and massive awareness campaign to educate the locals on the availability of these tourist centers in the country.
Liberia should be able to generate revenue from its beautiful sea shores, the ever green forest, beautiful waterfalls, our rich culture and Biodiversity.
By: Emmanuel Y. Kortu