Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe says Liberia’s major airport, the Roberts International Airport (RIA) is a ‘national shame’.“One of the problems we have apart from the lack of adequate infrastructure, Liberia’s airport – a national shame, we lack roads connectivity, we lack an effective national power grid. All of the attending facets that would make the air industry succeed were really lacking,” Minister Nagbe said over the weekend.
Mr. Nagbe made the comment in an address at a local hotel where newly elected Liberia Travel Agency Association (LTAA) officials were being inducted.Touching tourism issues, Minister Nagbe told the LTAA officials that the resuscitation of Liberia’s tourism sector cannot be overemphasized, thus divulging plans to restore the sector that got visually crumbled as a result of the protracted war in Liberia.
Minister Nagbe informed the inducted officials that LTAA plays a pivotal role to the rebranding process because it is a critical component of the tourism sector.He says LTAA is cardinal because without the air travel, there can be no tourism in Liberia.
He recalls that Liberia was considered premier for tourism in West Africa, but notes that unfortunately, it has been given away to other West African countries due to lack of requisite legislation and infrastructure developments.
In an effort to resuscitate the sector, Minister Nagbe says the Information Ministry is proffering a legislation to be submitted to the Legislature to remove regulatory power from the Ministry.
“… So, we are working with the National Legislature to separate tourism regulation from the Ministry,” he says, stressing that it is vital because once the regulatory agency is detached from the tourism policy makers, it becomes the nuclear driver for tourism related matters.
For her part, LTAA president Ms. Alpha Tah urged the 54th Legislators to consider the passage of the draft Liberian Business and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018 that is currently tabled at the Legislature.
She believes that if the law is passed, it will foster government’s Pro – poor Agenda, especially LTAA and all Liberian Businesses. “The Act does not only solely delegate travel agency businesses to Liberians, but it also addresses our major obstacles as entrepreneur access to finance and government contracts,” she says.
Ms. Tah notes that better working relationship would see LTAA become what it was before the civil conflict that derailed every facet of the sector.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Winston W. Parley