Your next partner in Africa
Your next partner in Africa

Sierra Leone Tourism Sector

Tourism Sector

Tucked away on the Atlantic Ocean, Sierra Leone is a splendid combination of 570 km of beautiful

white sand beaches, vibrant tropical forests teaming with exotic wildlife and breathtaking mountains that serve as the backdrop to what is an extremely unique tourist experience in West Africa. Sierra Leone is only 6 hours away from Europe, 8 hours from the US, 4 hours to Brazil, 9 hours to South Africa, 9 hours 46 minutes to the Middle East and 3 hours from West Africa’s largest city, Lagos. There are endless possibilities in the tourism sector given the diverse ecology of Sierra Leone, proximity to international hubs and an untapped natural beauty that can rival any location in the world.


Some of the world’s endangered species of monkeys, baboons, birds, butterflies, pygmy hippos and a variety of antelopes and buffalo families can be found in the tropical forests. The temperate

weather is ideal for swimming and other water sports along the established beach areas that are mainly being run and developed by local communities. Sierra Leone is also considered the premier

location for sport fishing with record setting tarpon catches. It is also a hiker’s paradise with gorgeous mountain ranges like Bintumani. Furthermore, the country offers visitors its historic

heritage and is a site for cultural tourism as many African Americans can trace their roots back to

Sierra Leone including well known celebrities like Isaiah Washington. Sierra Leone’s greatest asset is its warm and friendly people that are the true representation of the laid-back feel of this West African gem.


Possible areas of investment include:

  • Establishment of hotels along the beaches and other eco-tourism locations across the


  • Establishment of hotels and guest houses in District headquarter towns to serve the

growing private sector demands for better quality rooms, conference accommodations, etc

  • Promotion of cultural tourism (ROOTS Tourism) for the African American Diaspora and

others interested in this sub sector


Overview of the Sector

The tourism sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. It generates almost US$ 4

trillion dollars annual and represents about 10% of the World GDP. Globally, this sector employs

over 230 million people. Sierra Leone is poised to become a major player in global tourism and is

expected to be competitive with other popular tourist hot spots in Africa such as Gambia and Seychelles given the plethora of sites and activities that can be enjoyed by visitors.


Sector Contributions by Countries

Sierra Leone’s tourism sector has been growing steadily with revenue growth of 10% in 2011 and it is expected to increase to 20% in the next 5 years. The number of first-time visitors is also on the rise. Between 2010 to 2012, there was a 19.7% increase in visitors to Sierra Leone for holiday, business, conference or visiting friends and family. The sector has benefited from serious policy reform by the Government to engender investment and growth. These reforms include:

  • the development of new incentives for investors who want to invest in the sector;
  • target tourism product and marketing development around the Western Peninsula;
  • further review and upgrading of regulations to ensure a more competitive edge;
  • and capacity building of key Government institutions related to tourism to improve service


Investment in this sector has typically been driven by domestic entrepreneurs in hotels and

guesthouses in the capital city of Freetown and other district headquarters as a response to the

boom in the mineral sector; however, much investment has not gone into accommodations for ecotourism which is an important sub-sector. There are lucrative prospects across the country to

promote eco-tourism not only in the beach areas but the tropical forests.


There are significant commitments from private sector partners for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of existing hotels, as well as the construction of new large-scale hotels in the capital

city. The demand for rooms versus the supply is mismatched.


In 2012, the demand for business and conference rooms was about 115,094 and the available

supply was a paltry 49,275. The demand for Class 1 rated rooms in 2009 was 113, 679, and there

was a gap of over 80,000 in unmet demand. Even through Class 1 rated hotels have increased

from 105 to the present number of 135, it is still not enough to meet the market demands.

Further investments have been made by the Government to upgrade the airport infrastructure,

expanding arrival facilities and improving security especially in the handling of baggage.


Unique Selling Points

Market readiness

Several large chains and other investors have already entered the Sierra Leonean market based

on the projections for growth in the sector. Some of these players include:

Sierra Palms Resort

Sierra Palms Resort is the ultimate destination for both business travellers and tourists who are looking for comfort, productivity and entertainment


Atlantic Lumley Hotel

Sierra Leone’s newest high-end hotel the Atlantic Lumley Hotel is impressive and impossible to miss. An imposing structure along Lumley beach, in between the Aberdeen mangrove and the Atlantic with 57 rooms. The Atlantic Lumley Hotel also boasts of two fully equipped conference rooms, an Italian Restaurant with the best in Italian wines (Loft Eatalicous), an English style pub

(Dicken’s Bar), a Wine Bar for a more laidback feel (The Altruim) and “The Pastry and Chocolate Shop”.


Golden Tulip

The newly refurbished Kimbima Hotel was on Monday 25th April 2016. The newly refurbished hotel now has a total accommodation figure of 66 bed-rooms.Golden Tulip would rebrand Sierra Leone’s touristic potential and would encourage international investors into the country as Golden Tulip is a renowned hotel brand.


Radisson Blu

This is a joint venture between US private equity investor and the National Pension fund of Sierra Leone (NASSIT) to rehabilitate and operate the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel.


Through a UK based firm, IDEA-UK, the Hilton is reviving Cape Sierra Hotel. It is a 200-bedroom hotel with an estimated investment value of US $47 million.


New Brookfields Hotel

New Brookfields is a 2.5-kilometre taxi ride or walk from the city centre, offering 8 apartments, 12 suits and 32 spacious, contemporary deluxe guest rooms with hi speed WIFI, air-conditioned rooms, DStv. New Brookfields modern restaurant and bar presents the best of international cuisine. State of the art conference facilities and meeting rooms with high quality audiovisual technology and high-speed internet.












Eco Tourism

Outamba Kilimi National Park

The main Ecotourism attraction in the Northern Province is Outamba-kilimi National Park. A mixture of Savannah and jungle, the Park is found in the northeast of Kamakwie in the Bombali District. It is a magical place embedded between two rivers, the Great Scarcies, and the Mongo Rivers. It is home to elephants, hippos, leopards and other primates.


Tacugama Chimpanzee


This outfit is locally owned and operated as a home for rescued chimps before they are released into the wild.












Tiwai Island Wildlife Resort

Tiwai is a unique rainforest island where visitors can camp in prepared tents surrounded by an evergreen forest and the sounds of horn-bills and monkeys calling from the canopies woke you up in the early hours of the morning. With 11 species of primates, over 135 different bird species, and it is home to the rare pygmy hippo.


Shebro Islands

This is one of the premier locations for Sportfishing of Tarpons and other exotic sea animals.


Gola Forest

It is known as Sierra Leone’s green diamond. Some 40km east of Kenema is the Gola Rainforest National Park, officially opened in 2010 and only Sierra Leone’s second national park. This Park can boast of exotic flora and fauna and wildlife, and it is one of the few protected parks in the sub-region.


Breathtaking Beaches

River No 2 Beach

A stunning white sand beach that feeds into river is one of the most beautiful sites in Sierra

Leone. Development and use of the beach facility is currently being run by the community.


Lakka Beach

This beach is very close to Freetown and it is great location for business retreats and conferences.


Tokeh Beach

This is an ideal location for beach resorts given its picturesque sea front views and accessibility for development.

Old Fourah Bay College

established in 1827, Fourah Bay College was the first European-style university in western Sub-Saharan Africa, and the first high-level institution since one located in Timbuktu collapsed. According to UNESCO, “The Old Fourah Bay College is perhaps the single most influential institution in Africa in accounting for the penetration and acceleration of the spread of Western education on the continent.”


The building was used until the late-20th-century. It also once housed the Sierra Leone Government Railway headquarters, and later the Magistrate court. During the Sierra Leone Civil War, the building was used as a shelter and was burned in 1999. Only the external brick walls and iron entryway have survived. The World Monuments Fund lists this building as one of the “world’s 100 most endangered historic sites.”

Bunce Island



Bunce Island was the largest British slave castle on the Rice Coast of West Africa. This is a must see for anyone interested in the history of the slave trade. You cannot hear the story of Bunce Island without being moved by its history. Founded around 1670, it exported tens of thousands of African captives to North America and the West Indies until the British Parliament finally closed it down in 1808.

Cultural Tourism

Bunce Island: This is the location of the slave castle built in the 17th century that was used as a collection point for slaves going to Europe and the Americas. Many African Americans can trace

their roots to this site.


Freetown: Home of the freed slaves, it was founded in 1789. Freetown today has an interesting

mix of different heritages from across West Africa and Sierra Leone itself. Some of its monuments

that can be trace back many years such as Old Fourah Bay College (the first University in Sub-

Saharan Africa) and Old Warf Steps also known as Freedom steps which is where the first freed

slaves stepped foot on Sierra Leonean soil. Further, there is a vibrant night life that many visitors

enjoy mostly located around the beach areas.


Investment Opportunities

Existing Opportunities


Tokeh Sand Beach Resort: This project is an existing resort on over 2-acres of land. They are building about 50 bungalows with full amenities such as a spa and gym for high end tourists. There are opportunities for investment partners to expand the project to feed growing demand.


Eden Park Resort: This facility is already operational and sits on 5 acres of prime beach front

property in Mamah Beach. The investors are looking to expand the facilities through a joint

partnership to meet international standards and growing demand and it is expected to cost

approximately US $11.7 million.


New Opportunities

Business Hotels: There is a growing demand for business class hotels. Currently, the demand is not being met and in 2012 alone, there was an unmet demand by corporate visitors to the tune of 80,000 room nights or 493 rooms.


Recreational Hotels and Resorts: Projections indicate that the tourism sector is expected to

boom in Sierra Leone and its contribution to the GDP which was about 6% in 2012 is expected to

remain at this high based on the increased number of visitors coming to Sierra Leone and their

spending capacity. In an effort to pre-empt the boom and ensure market positioning, this is a good

period to invest in non-business recreational facilities especially for group tourism.


Middle level Hotels and Motels: With the growth of the mining sector in Sierra Leone there is an increased need for accommodation for expatriates coming into the country on short term

assignments. These types of accommodations will serve the market outside of Freetown which is

where most of the mining activities are taking place.


Tour Package Operations: This concept will allow for investors to take the hassle out of

travelling which is a major hindrance for Sierra Leone as a tourist destination by integrating airline

travel, inland transportation, accommodation, activities and insurance in one package. There are

local partners trying to operate in this space and are looking for strategic international partners with the financial and technical capacity to break open this market. Furthermore, these packages could feature ROOTS tourism deals which is a major pull factor in Sierra Leone and a unique experience given that many of the heritage sites have been well preserved.


Golfing Facilities: There are opportunities based on preliminary market feasibility studies in

operating golfing facilities in Sierra Leone. The studies showed that 6,000 travelers from

Scandinavian countries would be willing to golf in Sierra Leone due to complementary sunlight.

Furthermore, there are opportunities for hosting regional golf competitions that can be coincide with National cultural events such as the Lantern Parade in April and the Madengn Festival in December.


Water Sports Facilities: A beautiful coastline provides the opportunity for a host of water sports during the dry season such as boating, jet skiing, fishing, etc.

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