At the press conference the delegation from Sierra Leone was in fighting spirit: “We are not giving up“, said Ambassador Jongopie S. Stevens to the members of the media. ITB Berlin 2015 was the first opportunity for the country to address the subject since the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic. Together with Sierra Leone’s tourism minister Kadija O. Seisay and representatives of the tourism industry the ambassador appealed for support in these difficult times. “Ten years after the end of the civil war in 2002 we were on the road to prosperity. Sierra Leone had the second fastest growing economy in the world. But then Ebola struck..” is how Stevens described the catastrophe. His hope now was that by the end of the month or in the very near future the epidemic could be eradicated. After that the task would be that of rebuilding, in particular where tourism was concerned.
The minister mentioned the airlines that were no longer flying to Sierra Leone, but without which no one could visit the country. “We hope that that airlines such as British Airways and Air France will return“, said Seisay. “We would like to thank Brussels Airlines who have stood by us in good and bad times.“
Numerous measures are planned to get tourism back on track. They include roadshows, trade fairs and marketing activities in Germany and Austria. The focus will be on promoting eco-tourism and cultural attractions. “We believe we have the right products for the markets in Asia, Europe, Eastern Europe, the US and Africa“, said the Tourist Board’s Fatmata Abe-Osagie who was in a confident mood. However, before any measures were undertaken to revive tourism the country would have to get rid of Ebola in order to justify the tourism industry’s claim that Sierra Leone was still there. Antje Hennecke-Lückingsmeier
Press contact: Berit Pflieger
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