By Alhaji Saidu Kamara.
As part of the commemoration of the Global Tourism Day on the theme, Tourism Digital Transformation on change of image of Tourism and Culture nationally and international, the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the National Tourist Board (NTB) recently engaged members, telecommunications and internet providers, members of the tourism sector to discuss the way forward at the Sierra Palm Hotel Lumley Beach, on how tourism and culture can be improved through digital transformation.
The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Information and Communication, Mr. Solomon Jameiru. In her address, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt reminded mobile services and internet providers that the Tourism industry has been lacking behind for far too long, noting that this is the first time her Ministry is taking the lead to have consultations with them in order to improve the sector through digital transformation.
The Minister explained that Tourism cannot move without digital and technological transformation; a feat that many visitors or customers have adopted, adding that Sierra Leone needs a range of services not only limited to Tourism, but data collection about islands, historic sites and various tourist assets which should be accessible to tourists and non tourists.
Dr. Pratt said smart cities all over the world help in the area of sensitization through technological support to waste management and beach cleaning.
She appealed to all telecommunication and internet providers to use and advertise Tourism and Culture on their bill boards and other programmes.
Mr. Senesie Kallon, the Managing Director of Sierratel said linking Tourism to digital transformation is important, but expressed disaffection that infrastructural and internal services have been destroyed. He however assured his audience that despite the many challenges in the sector, they are committed to putting up links for effective broad band internet services on tourism and as well as link them with banking institutions.
Other speakers were representatives from Orange, Africell and the President of the Hotel Industry Association, Mr. T.A. Kokobaye.