EUDiF is glad to launch a new Capacity Development Lab (CDL) Action on heritage tourism with Sierra Leone’s Freetown City Council. This follows EUDiF’s recently-concluded Diaspora Professionals 4 Development (DP4D) Action in Moldova also on heritage tourism, as well as a case study on youth entrepreneurship and heritage tourism.
Freetown, development, and diaspora engagement
Currently the seat of government and economic engine of Sierra Leone, Freetown is a thriving opportunity-filled historic city. It is a place of bountiful natural resources and serves as a hub for trading and academic excellence in West Africa. Freetown has also experienced a chain of crises which provoked severe developmental challenges. After a civil war (1991-2001) and the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016, Freetown is faced with challenges that are at the heart of the City Council’s development plan such as urban explosion, insufficient infrastructure, environmental degradation, and a lack of access to water and sanitation facilities.
Working towards sustainable development in the country, both its Medium-term National Development Plan 2019-2023 and National Labour Migration Policy of 2018 identify the Sierra Leonean diaspora as valuable partners particularly in the health, education, and trade sectors. In fact, its diaspora has largely been active during periods of humanitarian crises with notable examples such as the diaspora-led response to the Ebola crisis.
The Transform Freetown Agenda: job creation through the tourism sector
In 2018, the Freetown City Council (FCC) launched the Transform Freetown Agenda, a local development strategy identifying 11 priority sectors under four pillars: resilience, human development, health, and urban mobility. Under the human development cluster is a priority on job creation, with a specific focus on tourism which was also one of the hardest-hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Action responds to the need identified by the FCC to strengthen its heritage tourism sector and build a stronger connection with the Sierra Leonean diaspora globally. Sierra Leone has a distinct connection with its diaspora communities in the Americas and Caribbean due to the transatlantic slave trade. The city of Freetown is twinned with the city of Charleston, USA due to the identified heritage links between the two cities. There are also diaspora communities across Europe who left due to the instability of the civil war but now share an interest in travelling back to learn about their country of their heritage as tourists and as investors. Moreover, job creation for youth through heritage tourism is a key focus for the FCC and EUDiF’s recently published case study.
In response to this interest in diaspora connection, the conceptualisation of a heritage festival and historical walking tour have been envisaged which will be made available to tourism stakeholders. A peer-learning experience will be organised with the Museum of Ethnography and Natural History in Moldova, with whom EUDiF recently completed a similar action, to further reflect on heritage tourism practices across geographical and cultural lines.
Increase the capacities and collaboration of the FCC to innovate and modernise heritage tourism in Freetown through diaspora expertise and contribution.
- Develop a strategic plan and framework to contribute to the rebranding and promotion of the heritage assets of Freetown;
- Enhance the capabilities and knowledge of heritage tourism staff and tourism management professionals in Freetown;
- Increase the awareness amongst national authorities and local communities in Freetown about the value & potential of heritage tourism;
- Explore the ability to digitalise aspects of the heritage tourism experience.
If you are interested to know more, head over to the action infosheet below: