The General Manager of the National Tourist Board (NTB), Mr. YassimKargbo, said only tourism can guarantee sustainable income for the country for which he is determined to make the industry self-sufficient.
Mr. YassimKargbo also disclosed plans to improve on the classification of hotels from the ECOWAS grouping to the international standard of 5, 4 or 3 STAR Hotels, maintaining that hotels would be assessed and graded annually, including their surroundings, to maintain standards.
According to the General Manager, the Tourism Act confers all touristic sites, including beaches and lands to the NTB but that, regrettably, most of the lands have been sold and the NTB is incapacitated by law to reclaim the property.
He revealed plans to recruit Beach Wardens to complement the police to reduce crime along the beaches, generate income from sand mining, establish a works yard, car park for 100 vehicles, public toilets and make the Lumley Beach a toll road, all aimed at generating income that would be paid into the Government Consolidated Revenue Fund for development purposes.
“If the Lumley Beach is transformed into a toll road, it would prevent crimes and accidents, including head-on collisions, misuse of the road and other vices,” he said.
“I have the qualified personnel who are committed to transform the industry. Before the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by the National Revenue Authority (NRA), NTB was collecting bed tax of 7 ½ percent per hotel but we want collaboration with NRA as we have the expertise to collect the tax since some hotels refuse to tax guests.”
He also said that before the Ebola pandemic, FARM tours from Europe and other parts of the world visited the country to explore touristic opportunities while this year’s Expo-Milan in Italy wants to tap the same prospects to attract investors and that the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in February this year, attended a pre-meeting at the Expo-Milan with key stakeholders.
“I have held fruitful discussions with the Minister of Energy, who is very accommodating, and has promised to provide electricity and water supply to Lumley Beach by the end of this year. The high cost of hotel bills is due to the non-availability of these facilities. At the moment, solar lights have been installed at Lumley Beach. NTB also wants to install security systems like CCTV cameras along the beach to prevent crime and trace criminals.
“I want to give as example the brutal rape and murder of a lady named Hannah on 13th August this year and her corpse deposited along the beach which is sad and happened at the wrong time and place for which some people have been arrested,” Mr. Kargbo revealed.
The General Manager further underscored the need for more police personnel to be deployed along the beach, intimating that the NTB receives quarterly subventions from Government that is inadequate and that the beach would now be cleaned monthly effective this September.