MONROVIA: As the urge for the diversification of the Liberian economy gains momentum in the country, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Cllr. Fonati J. Koffa has identified eco-tourism as one of the untapped sectors that has the huge potential to contribute to the economic growth and development of the country and called on the government to leverage on the opportunities in order to fast track its development agenda.
Speaker Koffa made the assertion on Sunday, January 21, 2024 when he delivered the keynote address at the maiden edition of the networking dinner and comedy show sponsored by the Liberia Eco-Tourism Exploration, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) which seeks to promote the potential of the ecotourism sector of the country.
“This nation, under God’s command, is greatly blessed with abundant natural endowments that could be leveraged to create conditions that will spur growth and development for all of our people. I am not talking about iron ore and gold, and diamonds. I am talking about the huge potential that awaits us in the tourism sector, especially in eco-tourism, which I consider the low hanging fruit.
“Liberia has a rich history and cultural heritage. Our biodiversity; our landscape; and our pristine beaches are breath-taking natural attractions. Imagine having nearly 32% of our total landmass forested, containing here are more than 2000 species of vascular plants of which 225 are species of trees and timbers; more than 140 species of mammals, including the rare pygmy hippopotamus; over 600 species of birds; and about 75 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the Nile dwarf, and West African Crocodiles; and six species of tortoise”, Speaker Koffa said.
Speaking further on the untapped potential of the ecotourism sector, Speaker Koffa said it is welcoming to evaluate the sector that Liberia has an unbroken coastline of 350 miles spanning east to west where some of the world’s exquisite beaches can be found, and other natural attractions including waterfalls, lakes, islands, and rivers ideal for water-sports and other recreational activities.
“Our Country has the potential of being amongst the top tourist destinations in Africa, if not the world. To make that happen, the full force of the Government, the private sector, and the ordinary citizens must work concertedly. Tourism is foremost, the function of security and basic infrastructures, especially road connectivity”, the Speaker said.
Speaker Koffa who promised during his election to lead the 55th National Legislature to work with the executive branch of government to promote the wellbeing of the citizens said he was pleased that the President Joseph N. Boakai has repeatedly mentioned infrastructure development as a priority of his AREST AGENDA.
“Our role as the peoples’ deputies- the Legislature, will be to support the Executives to implement policies that would advance tourism and enhance the welfare of our people. This will also include bringing about additional policy initiatives such as making our Country more accessible to tourists and empowering the local business community. We employ the private sector, especially Liberians, to take advantage and own the tourism sector. The Private sector can also be a constructive advocate of policies and actions that could improve the tourism sector”, Speaker Koffa said.
The Grand Kru County Lawmaker also spoke about the progress being made in the democratization process in the country where there has been two peaceful transitions from one democratic dispensation to another and the fourth electoral cycle that was conducted orderly.
He said as the country comes under the mantle of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai for the next 6 years, it was important to pay tributes to two former Presidents, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Manneh both of whom transferred powerful peacefully to their successors and “because of them, our Lone Star has once again established itself a beacon amongst the comity of democratic nations”.
He thanked the Chief Executive Officer of the Liberia Eco-tourism Exploration(LETE), George Manneh Wisner, whom he described as a good friend and brother for “this initiative and for inviting us to relax from the rigor of everyday work and to network as we face the challenges ahead”.
According to CEO Wisner, LETE is a subsidiary of Equilibrium Point Investment (EPI), a 100% Liberian owned registered business and association laws of Liberia in 2011 and amended in 2018. He said the company is seeking to unlock the huge potential in the ecotourism market in Liberia and create opportunities to spur growth and economic development.
“To this end LETE optimizes Liberia’s rich cultural heritage and history, biodiversity, landscape and pristine beaches as natural attractions and combines them with unique leisure activities to memorialize the experiences of tourism and other travel adventures.
“As a subsidiary of EPI, LETE seeks to explore investment opportunities in the sector and attract more equity participation over the period as business productivity expands and the need for additional investment arises”, CEO Wisner said.
At the program on the fun side, several comedians featured and had the audience spellbound throughout the duration of the program. Some of them are Joseph Dean, John Flomo, Kortor Barry, Alex Dweh, Vetekeh, among others.
The Standard Bearer and Political leader of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) was among the dignitaries who graced the occasion.