Thursday, November 25, 2010

ATA Delegates Foresee Gambia’s Great Tourism Potential


Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) Delegates from across the Continent who attended the recently concluded 35th Annual Congress of Africa Travel Association (ATA) has recognised The Gambia as a great potential for harnessing the untapped tourism market.

Some of the delegates who spoke to The Voice Newspaper in Banjul noted that they have drawn lessons from The Gambia and believe that the country can be a model in Africa’s tourism industry, with specific regards to the pace at which the industry is developing.

“The Gambia is situated in a strategic position and has a great potential for the sustainability of the tourism market,” recons a delegate from South Africa, while noting that the traditional and cultural heritage is still very rich and can give you a mental picture of recalling the norms and values of our great ancestors.

The delegates were taken on a conducted tour organised by The Gambia Tourism Authority (GTA) to historical site like James Island and Juffureh (a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site) which was base for the transportation of slaves from The Gambia, across the Atlantic Ocean and to the New World of the
Americas.

They also visited Eco Tourism Centres at the GIG Farm, Mama Africa Museum Centre in Brufut and the President’s Village of Kanilai, which has been transformed into a cultural stronghold The Gambian leader. Kanilai is known for hosting the country’s biggest annual cultural jamboree, the Kanilai Cultural Festival.

Having seen just a few tourist attraction centres, Mr. Ogo Sow, the first African Immigrant and Expatriate to start a Radio Programme in the United States and Canada aimed at promoting African tradition and positive image, said tourist and ATA delegates has a lot to learn from The Gambia regarding cultural heritage, peace and stability, which are a great sign of tourist attraction.

Mr. Sow, fondly called Mr. Africa in America said The Gambia is a real tourist destination and serves as role model for tourism sustainability and development in Africa. “Tourist come to Africa to see our good cultural heritage, we have in our countries things they do not have in their countries, the peace and stability; the sun; weather; wonderful hotels and sandy beaches; the delicious local food among others.

“The Gambia has been well recognized as a fats tourism developing country in West Africa and has gone far in the development of the industry in Africa,” he said. He pointed out that the cultural heritage can serve in many ways as attraction to tourists thereby increasing the economic growth of the country, as well as
communities around such areas.

He challenges the Government of The Gambia to work towards preserving these sites and the rich culture of the country to increase or maintain a high growth in the tourism industry. “But youths should not be sidelined in this process as it can help reduce the unemployment rate in any country,” Mr. Africa in America
stressed.

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