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Developing skills for Rural Tourism in Sierra Leone

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has designated 2020 as the Year of Tourism and Rural Development. This year’s World Tourism Day, celebrated on 27 September, was used to promote the potential of rural tourism to create jobs and opportunities. Visit for more information about World Tourism Day and Rural Tourism.

There is no one definition for Rural Tourism, but it is referred to as “all tourism activities in a rural area”. Visit for various definitions of rural tourism and rural area, and types of Rural Tourism.

In Sierra Leone, Rural Tourism can be used to preserve and promote our natural and cultural heritage, create jobs especially for women and youth, and provide sustainable economic development for communities.

Various types of Rural Tourism that can be developed in Sierra Leone are Agritourism, Farm Tourism, Ecotourism, Heritage Tourism and Wilderness and Forest Tourism. Some sites will provide a combination of two or more types. Activities may include touring farms, villages, towns, sites and rainforests, showcasing art and craft, teaching tourists how to make items, e.g. musical instruments, fabric, baskets and oils, fishing, and water-related activities.

Rural Tourism has its challenges, one of which is acquiring and applying the relevant knowledge and skills required to make it work. The ‘Diagnostic Study of TVET in Sierra Leone 2017’ concluded that staff across sectors did not possess the technical and soft skills required to perform their jobs well, and they struggled to apply the skills and knowledge they had acquired.

For a Rural Tourism business in Sierra Leone to be successful, the following knowledge and skills would be required:

1. Developing a Business Model

A Business Model, which is a high-level plan for profitably operating a business in a specific market, is required for every for-profit venture. It would include a description of the products and/or services that would be sold, who they will be sold to and why they would be desirable to those potential customers/clients, how they will be marketed, the competition, and projected costs and revenues. Developing a Business Model can be outsourced to a professional, but the business owner would still need to understand the business model as s/he will be implementing it.

2. Digital Marketing

Marketing is key to the growth of a Rural Tourism business, and Digital Marketing skills such as Content Management, Social Media, SEO are especially required to ensure the right content reaches the desired audience in the right way, and at the right time.

3. Productivity

Productivity skills such as Customer Relationship Management (including software and other tools), using virtual meeting and collaborative tools (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams and OneDrive, Google Meet and Drive), Teamwork and Time Management will help you and your staff manage your clients and teams better, and work more efficiently.

4. Creativity

If you want tourists to choose you over your competitors – global and local – you have to think creatively. Your products, services and ways of interacting with the public have to have some uniqueness that would set you apart from the crowd.

5. Basic Financial Management

The ability to record revenues and costs, and monitor spending is essential for making the business profitable, and for positive cash flow.

6. Work Etiquette and Ethics</