By Bida Elly David
South Sudan government in collaboration with African Tourism Board (ATB), has signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at boosting tourism industry in the country.
Speaking during the deal signing on Thursday, James Wani Igga, the vice president for economic cluster, said the tourism sector plays a major role in the development of a country.
He said the success of tourism in every country happens when it is managed by the private sector while the government develops policies.
In the context of South Sudan, the VP said the weakness in the sector is constituted by inadequate infrastructure and policies for its management.
“Tourism industry development should be led by the private sector, with the public sector providing the necessary enabling environment through appropriate policy measures and support, infrastructure improvements, and substantial institutional reforms that affect the organization,” Igga said.
Igga further stated that the government’s role is to bring about growth in the tourism industry through the encouragement of the private sector.
“Government redistributes both opportunities to participate in tourism growth and access to the benefits from it for the welfare of the citizens. It also ensures that its equitable growth is environmentally sustainable and will be accessible to future generations,” he continued.
Moreover, he said the government, through the economic cluster, will work towards improving budget allocation for the tourism sector in the country to improve performance.
He urged the partners to continue supporting the ministry with the necessary support for the growth of the institution.
Rizik Zecharia Hassan, the minister of wildlife conservation and tourism, noted that partners will help promote the South Sudan tourism sector to attract visitors from around the globe.
Rizik said the memorandum signed with the company will mark a milestone to end the challenges in the tourism sector, as the promoters will play a vital role in the international marketing of the sector for the flow of investors.
He mentioned funding as one of the key stumbling blocks to the progress of the tourism sector in the country.
Onyoti Odigo, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, said South Sudan is a country with numerous resources but requires good security and infrastructure to attract investors.
“Other challenges that we have are the lack of good roads, the poor river transport, and the need for bridges to take tourists from Juba to Malakal or Buma,” he highlighted.
He added that there are conflicts caused by the communities, either cattle wranglers or land grabbers, cattle keepers, and farmers among themselves, saying that is another real problem for our tourism sector.
Minister Onyoti stated that hundreds and thousands of wildlife flee South Sudan to neighboring countries as a result of insecurity and climate change.
He noted that what derails the progress of the country’s tourism sector is the foreign propaganda about war and unsafe places to live.
“There are a lot of countries propagating against South Sudan outside that South Sudan is not peaceful. You come to Juba; people are killed on the street; you go outside; you cannot move out. This is wrong propaganda,” he said.
Onyoti slammed the rumormongers, saying insecurity is a global trend that faces every country across the globe and urging investors to demonstrate their will.
“So we want to encourage all the investors to come and invest in the Republic of South Sudan. What is needed is peace and security. The government is working very hard to see to it that there is peace and security for investors, he added.
He applauded the Minister of Wildlife and Tourism for signing the MoU and urged companies to be serious about working in collaboration with the ministry to develop the tourism sector in the Republic of South Sudan.
Meanwhile, Mr. Simphiwe Culberth, representative of the African Tourism Board (ATB), demonstrated their will as an organization to promote the South Sudan tourism sector on an international level.
He said the world is knowledgeable about how resourceful South Sudan is, with several African heritages.
As a partner, Mr. Simphiwe emphasized that it is their role to ensure making South Sudan a prosperous country by attracting tourists from around the globe.
He said most foreign investors desist from coming to South Sudan due to the description of the country as business-unfriendly as a result of wars and brutality.
He noted that they took the risk as Africans to coordinate with the government for better or worse, testifying that South Sudan is indeed a peaceful country.
On his part, Lexy Mojo, representative of African Celebrates, promised to promote and market the South Sudan tourism sector through international events and shows.
Last year, the minister of Wildlife Service Conservation and Tourism laid out a strategy to invite investors to South Sudan in a bid to develop the derailing economy.