Liberia: Rep. Gray Hails Bi-Partisan Tourism Act, Says It Will Spur Economic Growth

Monrovia — Representative Acarous M. Gray (CDC, District #8, Montserrado County) says the draft Liberia National Tourism Authority act of 2020 will boost economic growth and raise the profile of Liberia when the bill is passed into law

The National Tourism Authority Act of 2020 was introduced to plenary on Thursday, February 13 by two influential members of the House of Representatives - Acarous M. Gray and Edwin M. Snowe (UP, District #1, Montserrado County).

The bill, entitled "An Act to Amend Chapter 31 of the Executive Law of 1972 to establish the Liberia Tourism Authority, seeks the establishment of a separate tourism body that will regulate tourism activities in the country.

It was received by plenary and turned over to the Committees on Information, Cultural Affairs, Tourism and Broadcast; and Judiciary for scrutiny and subsequent recommendations within one week.

Rep. Gray, speaking to reporters after session on Thursday, lauded his colleague Representative Snowe for the bi-partisan support and expressed optimism that the bill, if it becomes law, will spur economic growth and raise the profile of Liberia.

"This is a glaring reflection of some of the bills we submitted in the Legislature to buttress some of the Constitutional provisions of our country," he said.

"Liberia, in my opinion, has the greatest potential - a potential when tapped on, our country economy will boom. The image of our country will be sold universally and acceptable."

Liberia boasts of some of the beautiful geographical locations in the region. Some of its 350 miles long coastline is home to beautiful beaches, lagoons and lakes.

It has the largest remaining portion of the Upper Guinea Forest in the region that stretches from Guinea through Sierra Leone and Liberia in the west to Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo in the East.

The country's forest has several hundred of plants and animal species, some of which are only found in Liberia and no other parts of the world.

There are several national parks and protected areas including the Sapo National Park in Sinoe County, the Gola Forest National Park in Lofa and the Lake Piso Multipurpose Natural Reserve in Grand Cape Mount County.

The country has a rich cultural and political heritage. Its cultural and traditional dances are among the best on the continent.

As the first country to attain Independence, Liberia played a significant role in the independence struggle of fellow African countries back in the late 1950s and 1960s.

There are landmark historical sites across Monrovia and other parts of the country displaying the rich history of the struggle to end slavery and hope for freed and returning African slaves.

With these rich geographical and historical features, the country is to be a leading tourism destination, but that is not the case. It is lacking far behind.

The Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, the government's institution responsible for promoting tourism, continues to come under increasing criticisms for lacking the vision and not taking initiatives to establish a tourism industry.

However, Rep. Gray is optimistic that with the passage of the bill into law, an independent body will now be responsible to boost the sector.

"We want to say that once this bill is passed, Liberians will not only rejoice but Liberia will be the best venue for tourism in West Africa. As of today, Robertsport is the best surfing area in West Africa; we have some of the best sites in our country."

He thanked the Governance Commission, MICAT through its Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe and international partners for their support and expertise in crafting the bill.

What's In the Bill?

Section one of the bill states that the LNTA will serve as the principal government agency charged with the responsibility to encourage, promote, develop and regulate tourism as a major socioeconomic activity to improve livelihoods, generate employment and revenue for Liberians.

The bill, among other things, seeks to create and improve Liberia's image as a tourism destination, both domestically and internationally; promote the development and expansion of the tourism industry in Liberia, attract foreign exchange earnings for the people and Government and promote high standards in the tourism industry through training and human resource development.

It also calls for the promotion of responsible and community-based tourism so that locals can enjoy increased social and economic benefits and an improved environment; develop tourism with dignity, respect and nurture local cultures so that they enrich the tourism experience and build pride in the tourism sector in Liberia.

It further seeks the promotion of respect and dignity of people in tourism industry in Liberia, the involvement of local communities including women, youth, vulnerable and minority groups in all stages of responsible tourism development such as planning, decision-making, and implementation of tourism development strategies and activities.

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