The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs (MTCA) with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Saturday 12th September, 2020 provided training on the theme ” Climate Change Resilience for Women Entrepreneurs in Tourism Coastal Risk Areas” on Banana Island, one of Sierra Leone’s Colonial legacies dotted along Freetown’s Atlantic Ocean.
In his opening statement, the Chairman of the programme –Hon. Deputy Minister of MTCA. Mr. William I.K. Robinson– stated the essence of the gathering, noting that “This is the first time in the history of this country for a Government Minister and his Deputy to be in the Island at the same time.” he further sensitized the locals on the importance
of unity and respect for authority, adding that “Tourism is here to empower women on an alternative livelihood.” He assured them of the relevance of the training in their career while encouraging them to put it into good use.
Madam Veronica Shuaiba, Head Woman of the village in her welcome address, expressed delight over seeing a sitting Hon. Minister on the said island and for the first time, exclaiming that it is a blessing to them. She further informed the Hon. Minister about the challenge her community faces working with some proprietors of the tourism facilities operating on the Island, whom she believed, normally fail to comply with their cooperate social responsibility mandate. Madam Vero also revealed the unfortunate trend of guests harassment by some residents of Kent village, which according to her recommendation, the Ministry should take strategic action to stifle it in order to ensure reasonable tourism proceeds from visitors.
Chairman National Tourists Board, Mr. AlieuKokobay, assured the locals of looking into their concerns as he confirmed to them the urgency and huge interest Government has in developing these islands.
Mr. Mohamed Jalloh while reiterating the purpose of the training, said His Excellency the President Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio prioritizes the Tourism Sector as a driver for economic diversification. He continued that “We are here today to prepare the women with training on tourism and climate change as it will help them improve on the community in terms of handling tourists that may visit Banana Island.” The training, Director Jalloh concluded, was to stimulate their minds to have an alternatives in livelihood.
In her keynote address the Hon. Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu B. Pratt, expressed satisfaction over the historic event as she expressed thanks and appreciation to President Bio for prioritizing her sector being among the leading vehicles for the nation’s economic growth and development. She took them through the historical significance of the said Island and explained: “We all have relevant things that would have made the story of the Island different.
She briefly highlighted some of the immediate attractions needed on the Island ranging from protection and preservation of the jetty to fixing up solar lights panels. She promised to collaborate and partner with relevant stakeholders to get some of these projects in motion.
She concluded that “about 70% of women make up the Tourism sector and capacitating them is a must.”