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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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.