Category: News

Budapest-Bamako rally wrapped-up in Freetown

Sierra Leone wraps up Budapest Bamako rally in Freetown

Africa’s greatest charity car race, Budapest Bamako rally comes to Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s President, Dr Julius Maada Bio has welcomed over 700 tourists who completed the Budapest Bamako charity car race in Freetown.

The event which took place at the National Stadium in Freetown on Sunday, February 16, 2020, was attended by dignitaries from all walks of life.

As they drove through the last 89 kilometres to the finish-line, on-lookers watched in awe. Dusty 4*4 jeeps, SUVs, buses, pick-up vans and
motorbikes rode through in rapid succession.

At Masiaka, they were greeted with cultural performances and traditional rites. The best dancers and drummers from the surrounding villages of Masiaka revealed the most tantalizing moves to the admiration of the guests.

The guests in return did the symbolic planting of 2,000 trees to mitigate the effects of climate change and deforestation. They also shared gifts with the less privileged along their route as part of their charity work.

Driving over 8,000 km from Hungary’s capital, Budapest through Slovenia, Italy, France and Spain in Europe then crossing over to Africa through Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea and ending in Sierra Leone was no mean feat. It was a gruelling 17-day journey into the unknown starting from Budapest on January 31, 2020.

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board, Monuments and Relics Commission and Visit Sierra Leone (VSL Tours) couldn’t have collaborated better to bring that event to fruition.

“I hereby proclaimed you all as ambassadors for Sierra Leone tourism. Please share the good news about this destination when you return” remarked Dr Memunatu Pratt, the Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister.

Arguably Sierra Leone’s most successful tourism minister in the recent past, Dr Pratt has been working assiduously to transform the sector and make the country a preferred tourism destination.

President Julius Maada Bio was elated to host the biggest tourism event since his ascension to the seat of power. His promise of diversifying the nation’s economy through tourism was proving to be propitious.

While welcoming the nearly 700 excursionists from over 80 countries, in 210 cars, 52 motorbikes, and 20 trucks and buses, President Bio used the opportunity to share some of the nation’s most exciting touristic and cultural sites that they could enjoy during their stay.

Founder/Coordinator of Budapest Bamako rally, Andrew Szabo was happy for the warm reception and stressed that they chose Sierra Leone because the country was stable and growing steadily following her ugly past.

Chief Executive of VSL Travel, Bimbola Carol, Director of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh and a host of others made statements. Certificates of completion were presented to each of the 240 teams.

Dubbed the “last great adventure” the Budapest Bamako rally brings close to a million US dollar in charity to Africa. The 13th edition which ended in Sierra Leone in 2020 is the longest epic journey since its inception. The next rally takes place in 2022.


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It is amazing and Sierraously surprising to see such a mass number of tourists since the 80s when tourism was at the peak.

Well, the continuous marketing and rebranding process has begun to yield substantial results, as these arrivals said it all. For this year (2020), February has recorded quite a huge number of arrivals from Denmark to be precise.
The group is BOBBEN AND ROGERS TOURS a local Sierra Leone Tour Company.

The Sierra Leone Flag flying higher at Fitur 2020.

Fitur held at Féria de Madrid in Spain is an opener of every tourism industry year and global tourism specialists to converge and share experiences.

Sierra Leone’s presence at this Fitur Expo 2020 from 22-26 of January is to promote and market the tourism and investment potentials of the country to over 10,000 companies and over 142,000 trade visitors from over 165 countries.

The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs is leading the team at Fitur 2020 joined by the Director of Tourism in the Ministry, Chairman and General Manager of National Tourist Board and the Administrative Manager of Monuments and Relics Commission.

The team is engaged in various meetings with sector players around the world including government officials, trade visitors and the public showing diverse interest on Sierra Leone as a destination.

This Fitur 2020 is a unique forum for presenting our brand Sierra Leone and immerse through learning emerging sector trends and tapping new opportunities that translate to sustainable development.

More updates from MTCA/NTB/MRC

Idris Elba awarded Brand Ambassador status in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio meets Film actor Idris Elba, awards him with a Brand Ambassador Status.

His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has issued the British Hollywood actor and musician, Idris Elba, with a Sierra Leonean Diplomatic Passport and pronounced him a Brand Ambassador for the small resource-rich West African nation.

During a meeting at the State Lodge on Hill Station, President Bio said that Mr Elba’s visit to Sierra Leone had been long-awaited, saying that he could feel his burning desire to come back home to be welcomed by his country people. He said that the country had gone through a lot with a scarred image, which needed a conscientious effort from everyone to change that perception and create a new narrative.

“We have tried our best to change the narrative but we need more hands on deck. With you, we have a capable hand to join my government in shaping the future of this country – telling the world a new narrative about a Sierra Leone that is ready to grow and a nation that is ready to be the hub for innovation and technology in Africa and a nation that is looking forward.

“We are conferring you a citizenship of this country and to make you a Brand Ambassador of Sierra Leone. We want to tap into your network to be able to tell the world that the little nation they knew for bad things is now a new Sierra Leone. We want to let the world know that Sierra Leone is now ready for business,” he said.

Receiving the passport, Idris Elba said that he was honoured and thankful for the opportunity to become a citizen of his father’s country, noting that it was an honour for his family. He said he had always wanted to come to Sierra Leone and make a mark adding that he was thankful that his career had afforded him and family the ability to come back to Sierra Leone with determination to rebrand the country.

“This is my first visit to Sierra Leone but will not be my last. I will love to bring with me the new energy that President Bio is so focused on. I am very excited for this honour and I want to take this honour to make the President and people of Sierra Leone proud of me,’’ he said.

Elba’s father, Winston Elba, migrated from Sierra Leone to the United Kingdom in the late 1960s where he met with his Ghanaian mother, Eve Elba. He is also a producer and director continually securing his place as one of the most versatile performers in Hollywood. He is a winner of several accolades for his distinguished service in the field of entertainment. In addition to his Golden Globe win, he is the first male actor to receive dual Screen Actors Guild awards in one evening.



Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs (MTCA) in partnership Visit Sierra Leone (VSL) to end-host world’s largest amateur rally.

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs (MTCA) in partnership with one of the leading tour operators in the country known as Visit Sierra Leone (VSL) has on December 9th 2019 held a press conference to update the public on plans to host the reputable BUDAPEST-BAMAKO Rally (B-BR 2020) as its final destination.

Held at the MTCA Conference hall in Freetown, Mr Mohamed Jalloh Director of Tourism while chairing the occasion, disclosed that the press was invited to sensitize and prepare public support to ensure Sierra Leone benefits immensely from this charitable adventure, being the final destination country starting from the Hungarian capital, Budapest via Spain, Mauritania and finally into Freetown SL through Kambia/Guinea Border. Also as part of his welcome address, the Director described the opportunity as ” Being the first in its kind in SL” with the tourism vehicular road caravan starting from January 31st 2019 and ending on the 16th February 2019 at the National Stadium where H.E. President Bio is expected to address a host of international tourists from 80 countries. He justified how such huge visit will further enhance the enabling environment to transform the face of Sierra Leone’s tourism sector.

The CEO of VSL, Mr Bimbola Carol facilitator of the said humanitarian adventure, assessed the forthcoming tour as one of the biggest tourism markets for the nation since the end of the decade long civil unrest as he appealed to the media for cooperation to sensitize the country positively, describing them as logistic partners in complementing His Excellency’s tourism-rebranding dream.

Madam Estelle, the Brussels Airline representative remarked that the Airline is proud to be the official sponsor of the B-BR 2020; declining that it’s not a competition but a humanitarian venture to promote sharing of experience, livelihood support and discovery.

Briefing the media on the journey’s background, the lead B-BR 2020 coordinator Mr G. Szabo, recalled his awful flight cancellation experience in Conakry, Guinea in 2004 due to plane crash forcing him to an alternative road drive back home in Hungary. He delightfully chronicled the massive increase in the number of participants in the said African tour from 100 in 2005 to 700 in 2020. Mr Szabo, however, revealed the scepticism initially harboured by the majority of international tourists about their security in SL as he briefed the press on some positive moves he has made to frankly convince them about SL being a peaceful destination worth seeing and explore.

In her keynote address, The Hon. Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs Dr. Memunatu B. Pratt, while acknowledging VSL as one of the credible service providers in the country, commended the CEO for partnering with the Ministry to make SL a world- classed tourism destination. She maintained that this objective can only be achieved through a strong public-private partnership engagement. The Hon. Minister recalled the 1970s and 80s Paris Rally that SL ones witnessed as she described the forthcoming B-BR 2020 as a unique venture and an opportunity to offer such an interesting experience to the current generation of Sierra Leoneans.

Reminding the press about the top-ranking status of SL in the recent global International Safety Index assessment, Dr. Pratt encouraged the public to be aware of the said event, gearing up public expectation to offer the best hospitable behaviour to attract international visitors some of whom may consider the country for a permanent stay even after the said charity tour. “Sierra Leone has been removed from the list of high-risk zones due to tremendous efforts of Government supported by its citizens, which has led to some socio-economic and political stability, being a recipe for sustainable the tourism that the country needs to maintain and improve upon as a resilient nation,” she confirmed.

Meanwhile, some critical questions from journalists were satisfactorily responded to by the Ministry and partners present.



Freetown Forum – Agenda for Action on Women’s Empowerment in Tourism

We, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with development partners, acknowledge the following:

  1. Tourism accounts for an estimated 10.4% of the world’s GDP, considering its direct, indirect and induced impacts (WTTC, 2019), and the tourism sector accounts directly for 3% of the GDP of the G20 economies (UNWTO, 2019);
  2. Globally, tourism represents one of the fastest-growing and resilient economic activities – forecasts indicate that tourism will experience sustained growth in the coming years, reaching 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals in 2030, up from 4 billion in 2018 (UNWTO, 2019);
  3. Tourism is one of the main sectors driving economic integration and socio-economic development, and creating jobs in many other sectors, including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, retail, handicrafts, cultural and creative industries, financial services, information and communication technologies (World Bank, 2017);
  4. Tourism accounts for a higher share of women’s employment and entrepreneurship as compared to the whole economy, and is a driving force for social inclusion including, but not limited to, women, young people, persons with disabilities, migrants, indigenous and tribal peoples, and rural populations (UNWTO, 2019);
  5. Tourism is a sector made up mostly of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)  providing   major   opportunities  for young and female entrepreneurial talent, and for integrating SMEs and start-ups into the value chain (G20 Osaka leaders);

Taking into consideration:

  1. The 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, Chapter II, Section 9(1) and 9(2) (a) of provides for gender equality in education and outline directives that secure women’s rights to equitable access to and benefit from education and the 17.2 Education Act 2004;
  2. That nationally, the empowerment of women, youth and persons with disabilities is a core component of the Medium- Term National Development Plan (2019-2023) and tourism is a priority sector in the New Direction Agenda;
  3. The National Policy on Gender Mainstreaming (2000) the National Policy on Women’s Empowerment (2000), the National Action Plan on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace, and Security, (2000), and the Local Content Policy of the National Tourism Policy and National Cultural Policy;
  4. The Chieftaincy Act No. 10 of 2009, Section 8 that makes women eligible to contest for and become Paramount Chiefs, the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Bill, which establishes a minimum of 30 percent representation of women in governance at all levels;
  5. The Africa Agenda 2063, Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the G20 Osaka Tourism Ministers Declaration on Advancing Tourism’s Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  6. The seven key findings of the Global Report on Women and Tourism Second Edition, 2019 which state:
  1. Targeted interventions by public, private and civil society actors, such as promoting equal pay, tackling sexual harassment and recruiting women into high-level employment, help to promote decent work for women in tourism.
  2. Gender-sensitive legal and macroeconomic policies at the national level increase women’s economic empowerment in the tourism sector when they are implemented effectively.
  3. Investment in skills training for women, including training on soft skills and awareness-raising on available training opportunities, and gender equality training across the sector lead to greater outcomes for gender equality.
  4. Gender equality strategies for the tourism sector are vital for women’s empowerment, and must be backed by institutional and budgetary support.
  5. Women can be empowered politically and socially through tourism when links are made with the broader community and civil society organizations.
  6. When targeted gender-sensitive training is provided and women have access to appropriate technology,  the digitalization of tourism can offer exciting new opportunities for women’s innovation and empowerment.
  7. The availability of sex-disaggregated tourism data allows for better-targeted gender equality interventions in the sector and leads to greater women‘s empowerment.

Agree to work with policymakers, businesses, national and local government authorities, cooperatives, international organizations and NGOs towards implementation of the 2019 UNWTO Global Report on Women and Tourism Action Plan.

Action Plan


Take measures to tackle the gender pay gap in tourism.

Address social protection and unpaid work for women in tourism.

Systematically address the sexual harassment of women workers in the tourism sector, as well as issues of harassment in tourism communities against community members and travellers.

Develop and institutionalize gender equality strategies for the tourism sector.

Challenge gender-stereotypes in tourism sub-occupations.


Work to ensure that women’s tourism businesses can become formalized, if they wish to be, and contribute to women’s financial inclusion.

Expand and diversify women’s market access and fair trade for their tourism products and services.

Support women to expand and diversify their tourism products and services.

Introduce measures to improve women’s work-life balance in tourism and encourage an equal division of unpaid care work in tourism communities.

Expand women’s access to digital technologies, including digital tourism platforms.

Leadership, policy and decision-making

Work towards gender balance in senior management of tourism companies.

Address the lack of high-level women’s leadership in decision- making spaces in the private sector, public sector tourism bodies and agencies.

Ensure International Labor Organization (ILO) policies on maternity and care responsibilities are respected.

Actively support women’s representation and leadership in trade unions.

Education and training

Develop training programs for women in tourism, including training on soft skills, networking and high-level training for career progression.

Provide targeted training for women to ensure that they can use digital technologies to innovate through digital technologies in tourism.

Provide gender equality training for tourism policy-makers, managers and employees.

Encourage the participation of female students and graduates in tourism studies and qualifications.

Community and civil society

Facilitate women’s voice in the community and household decision-making.

Ensure gender equality and human rights commitments at the national level are met and implemented effectively.

Support women’s tourism networks, NGOs and tourism cooperatives to actively work towards women’s empowerment in the sector.

Measurement for better policies

Regularly collect and report data that is disaggregated by sex on employment in the tourism sector and, where possible, formal and informal tourism employment, gender pay gaps, entrepreneurship, education and training, leadership and decision-making, time use and work-life balance.

Regularly provide data disaggregated by sex on employment in the tourism sector to UNWTO.

Conduct gender analysis, consult civil society actors, integrate a gender perspective into all phases of the tourism policy and program cycle.


In collaboration with

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs has embarked on a nationwide assessment of natural, historic and cultural sites.

Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs embarks on an assessment of natural, historic and cultural sites

The process which started on Friday, November 16, 2019, saw five teams comprising officials of the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board, Monuments and Relics Commission and other stakeholders visiting various sites in the country.


Funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the exercise was done to assess the existing status of touristic and potential touristic sites principally natural and heritage assets.

A good number of natural and heritage sites in Sierra Leone present a barrage of conservation challenges that must be arrested to save them from further deterioration and degradation.

Some of the sites visited include the slave castle, Bunce Island, Tasso, and Banana Island, River No 2 and Lakka beaches, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Tiwai Island, Outamba Kilimi National Park, Old Fourah Bay College and others.

According to the Director of Tourism who doubles as the Head of this activity, Mohamed Jalloh, the exercise would aid the Ministry and her development partners take the necessary action to safeguard them from the effects of climate change, erosion, environmental impact and other conditions that were inimical to their continued existence.

Through this assessment, the Ministry would tackle management challenges while equally taking action to do a proper restoration.

Sierra Leone’s cultural and natural assets have suffered long years of neglect arising in part from the non-prioritization of the tourism industry by previous administrations.

Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Memunatu Pratt says they were doing everything humanly possible to transform the economic status of Sierra Leone through tourism.

President Julius Maada Bio also promised to diversify the country’s economy through tourism.

One way of promoting tourism, not least heritage, and cultural tourism is to assess the status of the sites and restore or conserve where necessary.

The exercise which lasted for three or four days produced a compelling outcome which if implemented, would bolster local tourism while still promoting inbound tourism.

This national exercise was coordinated by the Director of Tourism.


The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs as a panelist in the First Regional Congress on Women’s Empowerment in the Tourism Sector in Accra, Ghana.

The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs as a panelist in the First Regional Congress on Women’s Empowerment in the Tourism Sector in Accra, Ghana.

The Congress aims to discuss strategies and actions to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in tourism.





“Celebrating women’s empowerment through tourism entrepreneurship”


To disseminate the findings of the UNWTO Global Report on Women Enterprise Survey in Ghana and in Sierra Leon, and to discuss and identify key policy recommendations to promote women’s empowerment through tourism entrepreneurship.

Note that Women’s contribution to the economy of Sierra Leone is well below its fullest potential. In must sectors of the economy women entrepreneurs are are disadvantaged and face considerable challenges in growing their businesses.
In line with UN SDG 5:

to achieve gender equality and empower    women and girls. it is important to raise awareness of these issues and start to find sustainable solutions. Therefore, tourism is the correct and smart entry point for action.

Tourism is a priority sector for the Government of Sierra Leone. Tourism has been shown globally to provide more opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship and advancement than other sectors of the economy.


1. Greater awareness and understanding of the constraints facing women’s economic empowerment and gender mainstream in the tourism sector.

2. Increase interest in women’s entrepreneurship within the tourism sector in Sierra Leone and the sub region.

3. Stakeholder commitment towards action to promote women in tourism in Sierra Leone.


Visa-On-Arrival to Sierra Leone

As part of government’s commitment to promote tourism and attract foreign direct investment, the Government of Sierra Leone wishes to inform the general public, airline operators, Sierra Leone Embassies and Missions overseas, International Air Transport Association (IATA), international partners and other government bodies that with effect from Thursday 5th September 2019, a new Visa on Arrival policy has been rolled-out for persons from the following countries or blocs:

  • United Kingdom Citizens
  • European Union Citizens
  • United States Citizens
  • Citizens of Commonwealth member countries
  • Citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council member countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman)
  • Citizens of the BRICS Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa)
  • Citizens of the following countries:
    • Lebanon
    • Iran
    • Cambodia
    • Vietnam
    • Singapore
    • Indonesia
    • Thailand
    • Turkey
    • Japan
    • South Korea
    • Norway
    • Israel
    • Bolivia
    • East Timor
    • Macau
    • Samoa
    • Tuvalu

Below are the visa fees for ease of reference:

  • ECOWAS nationals – Visa-free
  • Non-Ecowas AU nationals – USD 25.00
  • All other countries – USD 80.00

Citizens of ECOWAS states and all other countries with which Sierra Leone has visa-free agreements will continue to enjoy visa-free access.

Citizens of countries not listed above are required to visit the nearest Sierra Leone Embassy or Mission abroad to secure visas prior to visiting Sierra Leone. All persons coming to Sierra Leone for the purpose other than tourism, visit or business needs to apply for a visa before undertaken such travel. We wish to reassure all potential visitors of a continuing hassle-free visa processing experience.