“Sierra Leone is small in size, but has significant potential to become a popular tourist destination,” says Euromonitor. Tourism is currently the country’s third largest industry after mining and agriculture.
Following several years of political and civil unrest, travel and tourism in Sierra Leone is slowly but surely recovering. There is a renewed interest in the country due to marketing campaigns by the Sierra Leone government.
Last year the number of incoming tourists increased by 2% to reach 45,537. Africa was the leading region for international tourist arrivals, followed by Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East. The UK and US were the key source markets for overseas tourist arrivals.
According to Euromonitor, Sierra Leone is one of the most unspoilt and underdeveloped tourist destinations globally. “The nation’s main attractions, which include beaches, natural reserves and mountains, provide a strong platform for the future and offer a significant opportunity to develop special interest tourism in the country. The government has identified several growth niches, among them eco-tourism, beach and adventure tourism, as well as cultural heritage tourism.”
A number of hotel companies have turned their attention to Sierra Leone. The Sam-King Group of Companies, which currently owns the Leone Lodge Freetown (previously Taia Resort), has partnered with the US-based Christie Company to invest in a 222-room hotel in Sierra Leone. Last year the Rezidor Hotel Group announced that it will rebrand the former Mammy Yoko Hotel, situated in the capital Freetown, to Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel. In addition, Hilton Worldwide has signed a management agreement with Cape Sierra Hotel Company to develop the first Hilton Hotels & Resorts property in Sierra Leone.
“The entry of multinational hotel brands will provide the marketing channels needed by the travel accommodation category to develop,” says Euromonitor. “New investments will also help to create a change in the hospitality industry by providing tourists and potential investors with top quality facilities. It will also encourage other multinational hotel chains to invest in Sierra Leone in the future.”