Contact: Rev. Torli H. Krua- President-857-249-9983
Boston, Massachusetts-Beyond the demands of international laws and divine requirements, it makes economic sense to remove obstacles in the way of refugees desirous of returning home. Many countries without natural resources or factories producing goods for export have been able to improve their economies through tourism. In order to make a country attractive for tourists many changes are necessary, including visa waivers, visa on arrival and construction of hotels along beautiful beaches. The United States of America which denies thousands of Liberians visa on weekly basics also offers visa waiver to over 21 million citizens from 35 countries because of the benefits of tourism. Over 160 countries worldwide allow American citizens to enter as tourists without having a visa in their US passport. Holders of US passports can travel, either without a visa, where a visa on arrival will be issued for a fee or where free entry is given for a fixed period to American tourists.
The United States generated a total of US$770 billion dollars in 2014 from tourism alone. Tourism dollars do not come without planning and a cost for promotion. The total government spending on just tourism marketing, promotion and visitor-related infrastructure worldwide is expected to top $413 billion in 2017, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). The Seychelles, a small African country which spends more than 22 percent of its budget on total travel and tourism expenditures recorded a GDP per capita of $15,476 in 2015. The Dominican Republic, a small Caribbean country which spends 22% of its budget promoting tourism reaped US$4.5 billion dollars in tourism revenues in 2013, that’s 7.7% of the country’s GDP. Our neighbor, Sierra Leone revealed that tourism revenues dropped by US$27million from US$58.8million in 2013 to US$31.8 million in 2014. With our unique history and beautiful beaches, Liberia’s tourism industry is yet to be developed.
Far greater than the economic impact of tourism is the gigantic economic impact of the Liberian Diaspora returning home. Ongoing remittances to Liberian families’ make the Liberian Diaspora economic impact a steady flow all year round. If a family of five Diaspora Liberians visits without a visa, there is a net saving of US$650.00 extra to directly benefit Liberian family members.
Over 300 million ECOWAS citizens enter Liberia without visa for business
purposes. When they make money in Liberia, the ECOWAS citizens send remittances from Liberia to their native countries. When their Liberian businesses boom, ECOWA citizens import their relatives to work in Liberia. Liberian DIASPORA involvement is a win-win for the
country and Liberian families. Considering the loss of billions of dollars in unearned tourism industry that does not exist and the fact that the Liberian Diaspora investment in the private sector has the potential of increasing employment and boosting the economy, it’s puzzling that government has narrowly focused on providing government jobs to selected Diaspora Liberians while mortgaging the country to foreign business interests.
Finally, some Liberians are criticizing President Sirleaf for not implementing visa waiver proposal a long time ago. The truth is these critics never advance a visa waiver step by step proposal to the president. There is an old saying that is appropriate in this case; “Better late than never.” Liberia is a republic, a country where citizens hold supreme powers. Liberia is also a democracy, a government of the people, by the people and for the people. As such, it’s the people who must make demands of their public servants and bring new ideas for moving the country forward.
In the past everyone waited for the president to bring ideas and that led our country into a bloody military coup and a savage civil war. As we return to civilization, the voice of the people must be respected if democracy is going to take roots. There is only one president right now who must take the credit for every action she takes. Together, we are demanding that consistent with her oath of office, she takes this necessary action to move our country in the right direction just one step at a time. Visa waiver for the Liberian Diaspora is the first step to national reconciliation, family reunion and economic prosperity for all Liberians. The ball is in the court of President Sirleaf.