Sierra Leone’s tourism industry has been badly hit by the current Ebola epidemic, to the extent that the sector is losing millions of US dollars and making the country unattractive to visitors, according to Tourism Minister, Peter Bayuku Conteh.
Speaking to the BBC’s Lansana Fofana, the Minister revealed that revenue generated from the tourism industry has seriously plummeted and that the current situation makes it even worse.
“In 2012, revenue generated from the tourism industry stood at $41.6 million and last year, we generated $58.6 and this shows a progressive growth in the industry,” the Minister said. He furthered that last year, more than 81,000 tourists visited Sierra Leone, far more than the 56,000 that visited the previous year.
As the Ebola epidemic ravages the country, major airlines that fly into the country arrive half-empty. Hotels too are virtually empty, the Minister also confirmed. Airport officials have also confirmed the sharp drop in the number of airlines coming to the country.
One of the leading European airlines flying into Sierra Leone, British Airways, has also suspended flights into the country. This follows a couple of other airlines that had done the same, in precautionary measure, as the Ebola pandemic continues to spread.
Sierra Leone’s tourism industry was badly affected by the civil war of the 90s. It only recently started picking the pieces, but the current Ebola crisis in the country has put a hold on any hope of its progression.