On Sunday, December 18, 2022, hundreds of people celebrated Liberia’s tourism industry on the grounds of the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) in the country’s first-ever annual national tourism festival.
The festival was held at the beginning of the high season for tourism in Liberia, which runs from December to May. It brought together local Liberians, expats, the Liberia Diaspora, and international visitors for a day full of fun things to do.
President of the Liberia National Tourism Association (LINTA), Mai Bright Urey, called the event a big boost for tourism and thanked the different groups for their hard work in putting on such a fun event for 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.
Through an agreement with the International Trade Center and funding from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), LINTA was given the huge task of organizing the event. They brought a variety of vendors selling products made in Liberia, as well as an exciting and well-organized ecotourism exhibition.
USAID, who co-sponsored marketing, worked with 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 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.
Two plays were put on by the Forestry Training Institute and the Ex-Bushmeat Seller to show how important ecotourism is.
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 were Junda Morris, CEO of Runway Liberia, and the Liberia Strongman Competition.
Shopping and food vendors showcased fashion, jewelry, home accents, Liberia-made snacks and 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.
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 the 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 saw 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 the 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 beachfront, Providence Island, and 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 Organization. It is funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework Program.