Madrid- FITUR, 24th January 2024. Sierra Leone, a country known for its rich culture and stunning natural beauty, is making a significant push into the Spanish tourism market, leveraging the momentum of FITUR 2024, one of the world’s leading tourism trade fairs. The Sierra Leonean delegation’s presence at the event underscores a strategic approach to tourism marketing and expansion, with the support of the Sierra Leone Economic Diversification Project (SLeDP), which plays a critical role in facilitating international connections and promoting the nation’s tourism sector.
It is traditional for NTB before the commencement of FITUR, which officially opened on January 24th at the IFEMA North Gate, the Sierra Leone Tourism delegation received an in-depth briefing from their LOTUS representative. This preparatory session was designed to provide insights into Spanish marketing trends and consumer behavior, ensuring that the delegation could effectively engage with potential partners and customers.
The Hon. Minister Nabeela F. Tunis, demonstrating Sierra Leone’s commitment at the highest level, graced the opening ceremony with her presence. This not only signified the importance of the tourism sector to the national economy but also provided a platform for high-level networking. Minister Tunis met with fellow tourism ministers, laying the groundwork for future collaborations and knowledge sharing.
A notable meeting took place with Mr. Borja Gutierrez of Inspiring SOHO, a travel agency from Malaga that specializes in crafting exclusive tours to emerging destinations like Sierra Leone. The conversation with Mr. Gutierrez highlighted the growing interest in unique travel experiences and the potential for developing bespoke packages that cater to this demand.
The delegation’s proactive approach continued with a meeting with Madam Marisa Nogales, president of Descubre Viajes, a boutique tour operator. Her company’s focus on fulfilling special client needs aligns well with Sierra Leone’s diverse tourism offerings, which range from unspoiled beaches to rich historical heritage.
One of the highlights of the delegation’s activities at FITUR was a featured interview of the Hon. Minister of Tourism, Madam Nabeela Tunis, conducted by Mr. Kojo Bentum-Williams of UNWTO Communications. Minister Tunis provided a compelling overview of Sierra Leone’s tourism potentials and the general status of the industry, effectively communicating the country’s value proposition to the global audience.
The delegation’s schedule remained packed with Asier Reino, the Director of Culturay Viajes, engaging in productive discussions about the possibility of integrating Sierra Leone into their extensive travel portfolio that spans five continents. This collaboration could potentially bring Sierra Leone to the forefront of travel itineraries for clients with specialized needs across the globe.
Moreover, on January 24th, the Sierra Leone team had the opportunity to sit down with CN Traveler Brand Lead Jose Manuel Manrique, though the details of this encounter were not provided in the brief. However, one can surmise that this meeting could significantly boost Sierra Leone’s visibility in the Spanish market, considering CN Traveler’s influence and reach.
The strategic efforts at FITUR 2024 reflect a comprehensive approach by Sierra Leone to tap into the Spanish market, with the SLeDP offering invaluable support. By engaging with travel experts, boutique tour operators, and media influencers, Sierra Leone is not only showcasing its tourism potential but is also establishing the groundwork for sustainable growth in the sector. The meetings and interviews conducted during the fair are expected to yield fruitful partnerships
The attendees of the meeting were high-level officials and stakeholders in the tourism industry, including:
– Mr. Mohamed Jalloh, the Director of Tourism from the Ministry of Tourism, who plays a significant role in shaping the country’s tourism policies and strategic direction.
– Mrs. Fatmata Mida Carew, the General Manager (GM) of the National Tourist Board, who is responsible for overseeing tourism promotion and marketing within the country and external.
– Mr. Francis Kaifala, the Chairman of the Monuments and Relics Commission, tasked with the preservation and promotion of Sierra Leone’s cultural heritage sites.
– Lucinda Kargbo, the Marketing Manager, whose role involve marketing and promoting Sierra Leone as a desirable tourist destination.
– Mr. Ishmael Abu Kamara, the Deputy Director of Culture, has vested interest in incorporating cultural elements into tourism initiatives.
– Annmarie Kamara, the Administrative Manager of the Monuments and Relics Commission, involved in the administrative side of preserving and promoting historical sites.
Additionally, various travel and tour companies, including Tourism is Life Tours, Best Travel Solutions, Kallon Travel, and Tasso Ecotourism, were managing a promotional booth. These entities have been responsible for engaging with potential tourists and partners, showcasing what Sierra Leone has to offer in terms of tourism experiences.
The report notes that the booth captured the attention of almost 400 stand visitors on the first day, indicating a substantial interest in Sierra Leone as a travel destination.
This level of engagement is a positive sign for the country’s tourism industry, suggesting that their presence at the event was well-received and generated curiosity among the event attendees.
Communications and P.R- NTB