Thursday, November 25, 2010

20th Century Tools No Longer Applicable In Modern Tourism

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The Minister for Tourism and Culture Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie hopes that participants at the 35th Annual Congress of Africa Travel Association (ATA) will engage each other to fulfill
the African Dream and bear in mind the stark realisation that strategies and  tools of the 20th century can no longer be applied to fully harness the potentials and opportunities of tourism in the 21st century.

Mrs. Jobe-Njie was addressing more than 200 travel experts and industry professionals, including tourism ministers, tourism heads, travel agents, tour operators  (specialized in Africa), airline representatives, travel trade media and hoteliers, hospitality, tourism and African studies faculty and students in
Banjul on 17th May 2010.

This year’s congress, co-hosted by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with Gambia Tourism Stakeholders and private partners is the first of its kind in the history of the Congress and will run through 21st May 2010.
The four-day event will engage delegates in discussions on a range of industry topics, such as public-private sector partnership, marketing and branding, industry standards and industry trends, notably climate change.
“I am glad to note that we are organising a market for buyers and sellers specializing in destination Africa. Delegates will also have the opportunity to explore leading sites in The Gambia, including the Roots Heritage Tour, the world renowned Mandina Eco-Tourism Lodge in the Makasutu Forest, on a few trips we are offering you as host country. ATA’s Young Professionals Network will also convene here,” the Tourism minister said.
This is the second time that The Gambia is honoured to host the African Travel Association (ATA) congress, the first being in 1884 and the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia in recognizing Gambia’s achievements in what she called ‘this fragile industry’, she noted that government’s commitment and unflinching support to the tourism and travel trade, hinges on its national vision of “transforming Gambia into a tourism paradise, thriving on free-market policies and a vibrant private sector that is self-reliant and enterprising, guaranteeing a well-balanced ecosystem and a decent standard of living for all.”
To achieve this vision, she said they have already elaborate a tourism master plan which is currently being implemented and focuses on the growth, development and marketing of the Gambia as an interesting, attractive and exciting tourism destination. “The master plan seeks to improve the quality of our tourism
product as well as ensure diversification in such areas as eco-tourism, sports  tourism, cultural tourism and heritage tourism,” she said.
She added that quantitative improvements will be pursued in relation to such variables as tourist arrivals, job creation, inter-sectoral linkages, entrepreneurial innovation and participation, training of personnel and regulatory frameworks.

However, in spite government’s optimism, she admitted that they are aware of the potential drawbacks of tourism, especially its negative socio-cultural impacts, while noting that they have devised strategies aimed at maximizing the economic benefits of the industry, and minimizing its negative impact.

According to her, notable achievements include the enactment of the Tourism Offences Act 2003; the adoption of the Global Code of Ethics for tourism; the formation of  the Child Protection Alliance; the Responsible Tourism Partnership Initiative; and an Eco and Cultural-Tourist Strategy.

“In this equation, we recon some pressing challenges, including the air access challenge for the enhancement of Africa’s travel industry, which depends considerably on  international tour operators, mainly from the source markets,” she said.

Nonetheless, she noted that it is an area which calls for concerted efforts from all participants, genuine Africans and friends of African. It is reassuring that this issue forms part of your deliberations, as it is of paramount importance for the African trade, she said. Vol:2 Issn:187

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