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LIBERIA

Africa’s oldest republic, reinvigorated


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LIBERIA Africa’s oldest republic is full of charm, natural beauty and an energised population eager to fulfil the nation’s undoubted economic potential, a journey which tourism has its part to play in Writer: Tom Wadlow Project Manager: Joe Palliser

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tanding proud as Africa’s oldest republic, Liberia is the only black state in Africa never subjected to colonial rule. Established on land designated for freed American slaves, the country officially became independent in 1847 and enjoyed relative stability for more than a century before civil war struck in the 1990s. Following a decade of troubles, Liberia once again has stabilised and is presenting itself as a dynamic destination for both leisure and business travellers.

From low and sandy coastal plains to rolling hills and lush rainforest inland, the country is home to a tremendously diverse array of terrain, the making of a fascinating visit for those seeking to revel in the outdoors. Indeed, it is home to one of the finest national parks in the whole of West Africa. Likewise, the promise to build a state-of-the-art international convention centre is sure to attract commercial interest from around the region and further afield once built – a clear sign that Liberia is open for business. And tourism will play a key part in realising the economic potential to be found here, not least because travel restrictions have been lifted following the World Health Organization’s declaration in 2015 that the nation is officially Ebola-free.

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The Business End FACTS & FIGURES

President: George Weah Capital: Monrovia Languages: English Area: 99,691 km2 Population (2018): 4,377,000 GDP (2017): $2.158 billion Currency: Liberian dollar (L$) Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time Dialling code: +231 Internet TLD: .lr Climate: Tropical

THE END OF the civil war in 2003 and democratic election of a new government in 2006 prompted reenergised efforts to build up Liberia’s economic infrastructure. Shipping represents an important income generator for the country, although the economy is still a largely agrarian one, with key exports coming from rubber, forestry, and mining with the help of foreign investment in the country. Liberia is rich in natural resources and has tremendous potential to generate hydroelectric power, something which was heavily disrupted during the civil war period. Developing the national tourism sector has been highlighted as a critical means of diversifying the economy, and concerted efforts are being made

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to organise the tourism to make it easier for visitors to plan trips. Available information on the value of Liberia’s tourism industry is limited, with figures for 2014 and 2015 (when Ebola struck) showing a steep drop from the $232 million generated in 2011. MICE tourism could prove an important subsector in the country’s bid to restore and grow the sector beyond the income highs seen eight years ago. In December 2018, President George Weah named Liberia’s international convention and tourist centre after Indian independence campaigner Mahatma Ghandi. The centre will be built by Indian contractors and located on a parcel of land at Stockton Creek on the Mesurado River, near the Providence Island tourist attraction. George Weah pictured in 1996

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In Focus Monrovia

Monrovia, as well as being the country’s economic generator, is also an important educational hub. LYING ON THE coast and serving The city is home to the University as Liberia’s capital, largest city and of Liberia, which was founded in law chief Atlantic port, Monrovia is named in 1851, opened 1862, given university after US President James Monroe and status in 1951 and established a began life as a settlement for freed medical school in 1968. Elsewhere is American slaves in the 1820s. the modern Monrovia Consolidated Since this time the city has been School System complex in the Sinkor through both ups and downs, district, and several church secondary overcoming the ravages of war and the schools. deadly Ebola outbreak. Today visitors An interest in history is will find a vibrant city with many sights recommended for anyone visiting and sounds, including the must-visit the capital, the aforementioned Liberia National Museum, Waterside museum containing many Market, Silver Beach and Providence fascinating exhibits detailing the Island. country’s past – it is the oldest

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Africa republic and has an intriguing story to tell. Likewise, a desire to try local and West African cuisine is also advantageous, as there are many opportunities to sample staple dishes such as jollof rice, fufu (dumplings), and okra stew.

University of Liberia

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L I B E R I A

Outlook Recommends “Liberia, a lush, green, friendly and vibrant land, offers everything from excellent surf spots and shops selling wares by edgy local designers to days spent lolling in a comfy hammock on the edge of the rainforest while listening to tropical birds sing” – Lonely Planet

HOTELS & HOSPITALITY

FOOD & DRINK IN MONROVIA

ACTIVITY & TOUR OPERATORS

Extreme Fishing Liberia The Royal Grand Hotel

The Barracuda Seafood and Sushi Bar

Jos Travel & Tours Palace Travel AIRLINES SERVING MONROVIA

Mamba Point Hotel

FuZion D’Afrique

KLM

Murex Plaza Hotel & Suites

The Cape Hotel Restaurant

Brussels Airlines

Embassy Suites

The Living Room

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Royal Air Maroc Kenya Airways


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WELCOME TO LIBERIA MAKING YOUR TRAVELS AS LUXURIOUS AND COMFORTABLE AS POSSIBLE 15TH STREET SINKOR TUBMAN BOULEVARD

+231-555-777-888 +231-770-777-893 WWW.ROYALGRANDHOTEL.COM

reservation@royalgrandhotel.com

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Visit Liberia VISIT LIBERIA IS helping to place the country on the regional tourism map. A nation with unspoiled nature, a fascinating history and welcoming culture, there are huge opportunities that Geert Van Dorst, the association’s Founder, is seeking to develop. “The Visit Liberia website came into existence as a result of the lack of structure online when it comes to tourism activities, entertainment, travellers’ tips and other relevant information when you want to visit Liberia,” he tells us. “I noticed this when my wife Olivia Newton and I were searching for things to do.” “There was a void in the online platform and too many fragmented

initiatives that can’t be found easily by the normal surfer on the web, so we wanted to change that with the birth of our website. Sure, it still needs a lot of work and continuous content to make it better and user friendly for the tourists we want to attract to our beautiful country. “Our vision is still to advocate with our Visitliberia.net to show Liberia in a more positive dimension away from the war-ravished country that still lingers on in people’s minds. Our country has taken tremendous steps towards the future to showcase our beauty to the world and welcome everybody to come.” So, what else does Liberia have to offer? Van Dorst took time out to answer some more of our questions.

Africa Outlook (AfO): How has Visit Liberia developed and progressed in terms of its key objectives and the messages it tries to get across? Geert Van Dorst (GVD): Sure it hasn’t been an easy task to get all the local stakeholders thinking the same way, but business owners have moved to the forefront to ensure collaboration

GEERT VAN DORST’S RECOMMENDATIONS Libassa Ecolodge – Marschall RLJ Kendeja resort – Kendeja Nana’s Lodge – Robertsport Nimba Reserve Kpatawee Falls Blue Lake – Bomi County Various hotels: Farmington (opposite the airport), Royal Grand Hotel (Sinkor), Hotel Boulevard (Sinkor) and RLJ Kendeja Resort (Kendeja) – this is where you will find high end international cuisine and service. There are also many rooftop bars in Sinkor where there is a great atmosphere at night.

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under the form of the Liberia National Tourism Association, where we all join forces to create the much needed structure behind all the different tourism activities and provide them with a platform on our site. The objectives will continuously change because we want to move forward and progress, so every milestone that we cross we will set a new goal to work for. Our work will never stop. AfO: How would you say Liberia has developed in recent years as a business travel hub and what are the key reasons behind its growing appeal? GVD: Liberia is now on the development path for tourism and equally for business – there are lots of opportunities in various sectors that can be explored for companies seeking long term development plans in Liberia. A tourism sector that is yet to be developed is a very good investment strategy for long term business in the country, especially when you love unspoiled beaches, sea, water sports and lovely temperatures all year round. As we speak, the government is undertaking efforts to ensure that a tourism visa on arrival policy can be implemented in the following years at the brand-new terminal at Roberts International Airport, due to be operational soon. AfO: Why, in your opinion, should someone visit Liberia? GVD: In my opinion Liberia is a gem to be discovered in all aspects, from its unique culture in how the country came to be and the unspoiled beauty of the landscape, to the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables and openness of the people who welcome you. When travelling with an open

This is something you should always keep in mind for traveling – safety. AfO: What trends are transforming the tourism industry in Liberia at present? How are you responding to these trends? GVD: The trend is that tourism entities are getting more and more organised and new ventures have started in the tourism related sectors. We are giving them online visibility so more and more travellers will find their way to Visitliberia.net and continue working with all the stakeholders involved in this process of bringing out our country to the world. Liberia is open for business and various sectors so we invite investors to come and check the opportunities out.

spirit, you are welcomed into the country to explore and learn more about it and its customs, making it a destination where you will feel like an explorer venturing into new frontiers.

AfO: Are there any plans or projects in the pipeline? GVD: The government is working hard on getting various road projects implemented so easy access can be obtained to the hinterland where various touristic attractions are located. Travel time will become reduced for future tourists and the business community in general.

AfO: What are the best ways of getting around the country? GVD: The best way to get around is with a taxi in Monrovia and its surroundings, and you can negotiate a day price to let the taxi stay with you all day so it’s more practical to see more things. When you want to travel outside of the capital into the counties its advised to hire a 4x4 with a driver and helper because you have to bear in mind that there are no real structured ambulance networks yet in case of emergencies.

AfO: Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in Liberia? GVD: We at Visit Liberia are very optimistic for the future of the tourism industry because of the resilience of the Liberian people to always reinvent themselves in a positive way, even after war and Ebola the people are standing there proud of their nation, “Mama Liberia”, and are willing to develop and stand for that freedom. It’s about time it became known to the world that we welcome everyone.

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Transport Links

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Gbarnga, Ganta and Sanniquellie. Minivans also travel similar routes. Car rental can be arranged through some hotels, and private taxis are another option for visitors looking to move around Monrovia and beyond. Motorbike taxis called pen-pens can be found in the major cities, while bicycles represent a final road-based option,

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PHOTO: PASCAL KOBEH

MONROVIA ROBERTS INTERNATIONAL Airport is the main airport in Liberia and where the vast majority of tourists will arrive. Among the airlines serving the transit hub are KLM, Royal Air Maroc, Brussels Airlines and Kenya Airways, the nation recovering from the cuts to services made during the Ebola outbreak of 2014/15. Liberia also shares land borders with Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, meaning road transport from these places is another viable way into the country. Once arrived, bush taxis are a popular way of travelling in and out of Monrovia from numerous other destinations, including Buchanan,

although it is wise to avoid poorly treated surfaces. Liberia does not have a train network, so alternatives to road transport are few and far between – while there is no official ferry service, tourists will be able to find canoes and boats able to take them up and down waterways.


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AFRICA

Landmark Attractions IMAGE BY © RAIMOND SPEKKING / CC BY-SA 4.0 (VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS), CC BY-SA 4.0,

Liberia National Museum

“This museum was established in 1958 with support from UNESCO to obtain, preserve and display cultural artefacts and other historical items which depict the country’s heritage. Although it was looted during the 14-year war, it still manages to keep to its mandate, by exhibiting captivating pictures and artefacts about Liberia’s past” – Afro Tourism

Sapo National Park

“Liberia’s Sapo National Park contains some of the largest primary tropical rainforests in West Africa. Few people have ever been there and those who have are probably in the ranks of the most intrepid and extreme tourists in the world” – Visit Liberia

Mount Nimba

“Beautiful Mt Nimba is Liberia’s tallest peak, 1362 metres above sea level, and you can feasibly climb it if you have a few days on your hands (it’s a rewarding way to beat the heat of Monrovia). You can camp along the way if you have your own equipment, hiking along the peaks” – Lonely Planet

PHOTO BY JOHN ETHERTON

Mount Nimba

Monkey Island

“This small archipelago is home to chimpanzees that were evacuated from a hepatitis research lab during the war. Enquire in town about the most up-todate options for viewing the island and chimps from a canoe (US$5 to US$10) – it can be hit or miss, but there will usually be someone around who can take you” – Lonely Planet

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joe.palliser@outlookpublishing.com Tel: +44 (0) 1603 959 676 jordan.levey@outlookpublishing.com Tel: +44 (0) 1603 959 668 krisha.canlas@outlookpublishing.com Tel: +44 (0) 1603 959 682 matt.cole-wilkin@outlookpublishing.com Tel: +44 (0) 1603 959 669 w w w. o u t l o o k t r a ve l m a g . c o m

Profile for Outlook Publishing

Liberia Business Travel Guide 2019  

Liberia Business Travel Guide 2019 - Africa Outlook - Issue 75

Liberia Business Travel Guide 2019  

Liberia Business Travel Guide 2019 - Africa Outlook - Issue 75