Show of International Confidence in the Destination, Tourism Ministry Welcome 690 Budapest-Bamako Freetown Rally Participants

The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and its agencies (National Tourist Board, Monument and Relics Commission) have welcomed the first batch of 690 participants with 300 vehicles and motorbikes for the Budapest-Bamako Freetown Challenge finish line event at Gigibonta Car Park, Lumley Beach, Freetown.

The participants including three Sierra Leoneans (Drizilik, Ibrahim Cole and Mohamed Waritay) used their participation of this year’s event to raise awareness about autism. Another Sierra Leonean, Akiwumi Attawia was also part of the rally. The second batch of 194 rally participants will arrive in Freetown on March 4th, 2024.

Prior to the finish line event, the Ministry received the participants at the Sierra Leone-Guinea border, Gbalamuya, Kambia and Madina Oula routes before proceeding to Bureh Beach where they were welcomed by the Minister, Mrs. Nabeela Tunis, other sector stakeholders and the Minister for Western Region, Ambassador Adekunle King. The rally participants were also treated by a wonderful performance by Amazing Dance Band, other leisure activities were also on display to pass the night.

On the humanitarian side of the rally, cross-section of the participants including the team lead, Andrew Szabo donated educational materials to REC Primary School at Bureh Beach. On their way to the finish line, the Ministry together with the Sierra Leone Police escorted the participants to the finish line. Ministry’s officials as well as jubilant Sierra Leoneans greeted and applauded the tourists as they crossed the finish line.

In her keynote address, Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Mrs. Nabeela Farida Tunis on behalf of President Bio and the People of Sierra Leone welcomed the participants saying that they were delighted that they made it to the finish line in Freetown. She maintained that the organization of the event in Freetown for the third time is a testament to the exceptional experience, warm hospitality and peace and conducive environment provided by the government and people of Sierra Leone. She explained that the rally is unique in the sense that it coincides with their “Travel and Hospitality” theme in the second month of the One Year “Tourism for All Campaign” more so with the participation of three Sierra Leoneans for the very first time.

Mrs. Tunis was delighted to see the Sierra Leone Team Puzzle Pieces members (Ibrahim Cole, Drizilik and Mohamed Waritay) participate in the rally for a worthy cause which needs the attention to understand and embrace the unique characteristics people with autism possess. She said autism is real and thanked their team for bringing it to the fore in this manner.

She thanked the Coordinator, Andrew Szabo, government ministers, her deputy, staff of the ministry and agencies, the World Bank/SLEDP, Visit Sierra Leone, the Hungarian Consul and all those that made the event a success.

In his statement, the founder of the Budapest-Bamako Freetown Rally, Andrew Szabo hinted that it was the third time bringing the event to Freetown but it would not be the last because Sierra Leone is a special, fantastic gem in West Africa. He said it was two difficult weeks as it was not an easy challenge but coming in Sierra Leone to feel the energy and warm welcome of its people makes it worthwhile, a message he said will be taken to the rest of the world. He applauded the partnership between them and Sierra Leone while disclosing that discussions will be held to bring every Budapest-Bamako rally to Freetown for the rest of this decade.

The ceremony ended with the unveiling of a plaque in memory of Solboch Petery, an Hungarian rally participants who sadly passed away from natural cause during last year’s rally.

The Budapest-Bamako Freetown Challenge aims at actualizing President Bio’s vision of making Sierra Leone an attractive tourist destination, create platform for cultural exchange, facilitate foreign direct investment and provide jobs. The rally also symbolizes the show of international confidence in Sierra Leone.


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