by Amat JENG
The Minister of Tourism and Culture of The Gambia has appreciated the trend of the tourism sector saying it is undergoing “tremendous transformation”, despite the turbulence in the global economy, exacerbated by political turmoil in some parts of the Middle East, North Africa and in the Sahel.
Minister Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie was speaking during the recent Ecowas Tourism Ministers’ Summit hosted by The Gambia at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi, where she said “this tremendous transformation” came as a result of the dynamic changes at the global level, which has necessitated the adoption of certain reforms at both global and national levels to meet the challenges and stay competitive.
The global economic meltdown coupled with regional and sub-regional crises have affected tourism in many parts of the world, albeit its resilience in some countries, she added.
Despite this situation, the tourism minister said, it is gratifying to note that at the level of ECOWAS, some very pragmatic, robust programmes and projects have been ongoing and are underpinned by a consistent consultative process.
Commenting on the level of development of the tourism sectors of ECOWAS states, Minister Jobe-Njie noted that while some countries have relatively successful tourism industries that contribute significantly to the national economy, others are only beginning to experience some modest development in their tourism sectors, with some being affected by ongoing conflicts.
“In spite of these disadvantages, the potentials for our sub-region to emerge as a hot spot tourism multi-destination remain huge,” she added.
In terms of experience, the minister said The Gambia hopes to be at the forefront in terms of sharing best practice and experiences.
“This is borne out of the fact that Gambia has over the years laid a solid foundation for its tourism sector and over the course of time accumulated a wide range of expertise in terms of tourism management and planning as well as in responsible tourism development.”
Hon. Jobe-Njie said a lot of strides have been registered in responsible tourism, citing the development and setting in train of a “responsible tourism policy, to articulate a functional eco-tourism policy”.
This is also vital since The Gambia is serving as host to the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT); and institutionalising an interactive and unique partnership between the public and private sectors in terms of responsible tourism partnership.
The event availed sub-regional tourism authorities the opportunity to share best practises on some of the nomenclatures of tourism in the continent.