Sierra Leone is trying to rebuild its tourism industry hurt by years of civil strife. Tourists, in small numbers, are returning to Sierra Leone’s white sand beaches and clear blue waters, eight years after fighting ended in the western African country.
At Number 2 River Beach, south of the capital Freetown, a community youth group runs the resort and keeps the beach clean. Daniel Macauley, the group’s chief, says it helps ease local unemployment. “Our community is basically a tourist destination,” he said. “So we decided to at least start having people, accommodating them here.”The resort employs about 40 villagers. American Jim Dean is a regular at the beach.
“We try to get out here as often as we can, you know, maybe once or twice a month,” he said. “There are several other beaches along this stretch, but this is a very special beach simply because of the sand and the view.”
Although Sierra Leone has a lot to offer, the challenge is convincing tourists to come, says tour operator Bimbola Carrol.
“And in order to do that we need to be able to convince them that Sierra Leone is ready to welcome them,” said Carrol. “And a lot, for a lot of operators outside, Sierra Leone, it’s still sort of a – it’s not in their books, if you know what I mean.”