Lumley Beach, Freetown, Tuesday 8 November 2022 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has received participants of the Budapest-Bamako Rally in Freetown, dubbed the world’s largest amateur vehicular rally and a 19-day event that saw 600 participants with 250 vehicles and 350 motorbikes taking part.
“Today, I am here at the finish line with great pride in our peaceful capital city, Freetown, to congratulate participants of the Budapest-Bamako Rally, a true test of resilience and human limits, physical and mental strength. More importantly, it unites people. My message to you is that Sierra Leone is open for business,” he said.
The President also assured his guests that the Government of Sierra Leone would continue to promote initiatives that would showcase the country’s rich tourism potential as well as its programmes geared toward rebranding the country.
He noted that their presence in the country, for the second time in two years, was a testimony to the fact that Sierra Leone had graduated from those gloomy pictures painted by some people, informing them that the latest Global Peace Index had rated Sierra Leone as the most peaceful country in West Africa and the third most peaceful in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Apart from being the most peaceful country in West Africa, Sierra Leone possesses tremendous tourism potential in terms of pristine natural areas, beautiful landscapes, white sandy beaches, exotic islands, historic rivers, lakes and mountains,” he said.
The President went on to state that their visit might have been limited to just a few places, and, therefore, encouraged them to explore the vast heritage and ecotourism sites across the country to benefit from the diverse culture and warm hospitality that cut across tribal and regional boundaries.
“My government has embarked on the development of tourism sites under the Sierra Leone Economic Diversification Project, with support from the World Bank, to develop six project communities. Also, under the enhanced integrated framework project, we are rehabilitating the Milton Margai Technical University’s hotel and tourism training college at Brookfields,” he said.
Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Mohammed Jalloh, described the event as fantastic, while also noting that the country had played host to this year’s 600 participants, who took part in the Budapest-Bamako Rally.
He said Sierra Leone was very proud to have received them for the second time, saying that that was a show of confidence in Sierra Leone as a peaceful and accommodating place.
Chief Executive Officer of the Budapest-Bamako Rally, Andrew Szabo, said the rally did not happen last year due to the Covid pandemic but noted that they were fortunate to do so this year and to have finished in Sierra Leone.
He disclosed that since the rally started 17 years ago, they had never received a fantastic welcome as the one they got in Sierra Leone and thanked the President and his people for the warm reception.
“I want to encourage the government to preserve the beaches and the forests and to happily share them with the world,” he concluded.
The Budapest-Bamako is about community. It’s about meeting new people. It’s about finding a helping hand when you need help. It’s about sharing meals, drinks and stories at the end of each day. It’s about sitting together by the fire each night. It’s about visiting local villages in Africa bringing gifts and learning about each other. It is about destroying stereotypes. It is also about having a good time and meeting like-minded people.
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