Hundreds of people celebrated Liberia tourism on Sunday, December 18, on the grounds of the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) in the country’s first-ever, annual national tourism festival.
Held at the start of Liberia’s tourism high season, which runs from December to May, the festival brought together local Liberians, expats, Liberia Diaspora, and international visitors in a day filled with an array of exciting activities.
Liberia National Tourism Association (LINTA) President, Mai Bright Urey called the event an important boost for tourism while thanking the various groups for their hard work in bringing such an exciting event to the Liberian people.
“This coming together of major players in the tourism sector is, in my opinion, a great boost and shows that we must continue to unite in keeping tourism alive,” said Urey. LINTA, tasked with the enormous responsibility of organizing the event through an agreement with the International Trade Center, and funding from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) brought a mix of vendors showcasing Liberia made products, an exciting and well displayed Ecotourism exhibition, USAID who co-sponsored marketing, music artists, cultural performers, comedians, drama teams, the Chef Association of Liberia and even wrestlers in a high-energy wrestling match. For kids, an entire section featured games and so much more.
Master of Ceremony, the popular Cypha The King navigated and kept the stage alive with top billing artists Teddy Ride, J. Slught, Davero, Stunna, Rise B and others, as the crowd went wild, singing and dancing along in an organized celebration of tourism. Ten cultural groups representing the natural resources of Liberia including mountain, coastal and rainforest destinations exhibited Liberia’s cultural heritage through dance and music. Celebrity comedians Angel Michael and EKJ put on great performances. The Forestry Training Institute and the Ex-Bushmeat Seller put on two dramas highlighting the importance of ecotourism.
The Chefs Association of Liberia hosted a Taste of Liberia competition with Chef Catherine Johnson’s Bitter Ball Torgborhee representing Lofa County winning first place. Chef Eddie Bangura won first place in the Bread Competition and Chef Femi Williams took home the Onga Chef of the Year award. Announcing the winners was Junda Morris, CEO of Runway Liberia and the Liberia Strongman Competition.
Shopping and food vendors showcased fashion, jewelry, home accents, Liberia made snacks, drinks, body care products and much more. Gracing the occasion was Colorado State Representative Naquetta Ricks who shopped for gifts to take back to the US. “It was amazing to see all these Liberian made products, small business owners and artisans featuring their goods. It is one of the best ways to feature the rich culture and creativity of Liberia. It was a positive event with lots of great energy,” said Ricks.
The LIBFEST forms part of the marketing component of the Liberia Tourism Development Project being implemented by the International Trade Center in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) and Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) with funding from the Enhanced Integrated Framework. The International Trade Center which is implementing the Tourism Development Project expressed how pleased they were with LINTA’s execution of this important event and sees this as an important milestone in the marketing strategy and vision for Liberia’s tourism.
About the Tourism Development Project
The Liberia Tourism Development project emanates from the National Export Strategy on Tourism 2016- 2020 and responds to the implementation of the Strategy. It has an objective of developing the tourism sector offerings by: a) improving the policy environment and institutional capacity; b) developing new tourism destinations around surfing and other historical and natural attractions; and c) undertaking targeted promotion and advocacy campaigns to promote tourism to international, regional and domestic markets. Specifically, the project aims at: a) establishing a tourism information booth at the Monrovia Roberts International Airport, b) developing tourist reception facilities at the Robertsport beach-front, the Providence Island and the Marshall Island; and c) developing a tourism marketing strategy and a tourism brand identity for Liberia, focusing on Robertsport as a surf tourism destination. The project is implemented by the International Trade Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry; the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism; and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. It is funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework Programme.