Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gambia to Aim at Conference Tourism

“The Country Is Known for Hosting Big International Events”

VOL:1 ISSN:36 As part of the diversification process, The Gambia will aim at positioning itself as a preferred destination for Conference Tourism, the Finance and Economic Affairs Minister told Gambians in his 2010 Budget Presentation on Friday 18th December, 2009.
“Indeed the country has once again demonstrated its capacity to host major international events through the successful hosting of the UNECA Beijing +15 Review meeting and the African Union back-to-back meeting for Experts and Gender Minister in November 2009,” Hon. Abdou Kolley said.
According to him, the good reputation for hospitality is second to none, couple with good quality hotel infrastructure, which must be exploited to the fullest extent possible. He said tourism development in all its forms continues to be a priority for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, given the sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment.

He explained that in 2009, significant resources were directed at international marketing with the development of a highly interactive website, production of promotional literature and participation in major tourism events at home and abroad. “Various initiatives are being undertaken to diversify the tourism market, while a destination marketing framework is being developed,” he noted.
He also noted that other major developments in the tourism sector include the upgrading of various craft markets in the Tourism Development Area, notably Kotu, Bakau, and Palma Rima Beach. Similarly, listed world heritage sites like James Island, Juffureh, Wassu and Kerr Batch Stone Circles were given a facelift with donor support.
According to him, The Gambia Hotel School would be upgraded into a tourism and hospitality training institute; a process which would start in 2010 as the World Bank has already provided funds for a total review of the school, and the Spanish Government is also willing to provide support for this purpose.
In terms of arts and culture, he indicated that the National Center for Arts and Culture has now established a Copyright Bureau, with a view to administering and protecting the intellectual property rights of writers and artist. The centre, in consultation with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has appointed a copyright commission and efforts are being intensified to mobilise funds for the construction of a National Theatre Complex.
Information, Communication and Technology
On information and communication, he highlighted that the Government through the Ministry of Communication, Information and Information Technology (MOCIIT) has enacted the Information and Communication Act 2009, which came into effect on 29th May 2009. “This legal framework embodies telecommunication, information technology and broadcasting, information societies, technology convergence and neutrality that promote development in infrastructure and services,” he said.
He said: “The Act enables The Gambia to have not only a modern ICT legislation but also a comprehensive law that meets international standard, best practices and benchmarks.”
The Finance Minister indicated that the Government has secured funding from the United Nations Development Programme for the development of a government-wide web portal (E-Government). In May 2009, MOCIIT carried out an e-readiness survey, which will determine the strategy and intervention areas for the implementation of the web-portal project and future ICT initiatives.
He said that MOCIIT has implemented the Pan-African e-Network project which provides a patient-end location at the new Serrekunda Hospital and a tele-education node at the University of The Gambia (UTG) to enhance Gambian health and education service delivery system respectively.
The project, which is supported by the Indian Government, provided modern medical equipment to the hospital and completed the learning centre at the UTG. The latter will provide opportunity for Gambians to access online undergraduate and Masters Degree Programmes from Indian Universities at minimal cost.
The Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) can now boast of a digital satellite broadcasting facility, which puts GRTS on track to migrate from analogue to fully digitalised transmission. The satellite project includes the provision of outside broadcasting vans and replacement of terrestrial transmitters country-wide. “GRTS will now focus on a complete switchover of Radio Gambia from medium wave (MW) to frequency modulation (FM) broadcasting, and transform the FM radio into a commercial station,” he added.

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