By Adama Tine
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) on Monday concluded a two day validation forum of a formulated draft National Tourism Policy and Strategy for the period of 2021-2030 at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Centre.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Hamat NK Bah, minister for Tourism and Culture said despite the best efforts of government and stakeholders, the modern policy and other blueprints have not been able to adequately tackle all emerging challenges due to a range of constraints and gaps in tourism.
The tourism minister continued that these issues range from product obsolescence, rethinking the concept of development in tourism, declining service standard at all levels of hospitality, undiversified source markets, enhancing destination visibility, developing domestic tourism, increasing the range and scope of products, among others.
“Tourism is indeed a vital pillar of the economy in terms of wealth creation, employment generation, creation of substantial entrepreneurial opportunities as well as positioned in the forefront of the overall efforts to ensure sustainable development as enshrined in the National Development Plan,” he highlighted.
According to him, the policy blueprint was all embracing and did cast the net wide in terms of product development, both on the demand and supply sides, destination marketing, institutional strengthening, streamlining of tourism legislation, human resources development, tackling social issues in tourism such as “bumster” menace, travel facilitation and security issues to ensure quality in tourism and increase the impact of tourism.
Cordu Jabang-Senghore, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Tourism Ministry said the validation of the two homegrown major documents is formulated following a robust stakeholder’s engagement as well as extensive literature review that have been broad-based to include a broad spectrum of stakeholders at both national and regional levels.
She added that the idea was to ensure that the final document embodies the true aspiration of Gambian people in their pursuit to reposition, augment and amplify the impact of the coveted tourism industry.
“It is my fervent hope that these draft documents when validated would make a lot of difference to tourism development in destination Gambia,” the Tourism PS noted.
Juldeh Jallow, permanent secretary at the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, said tourism is a key economic driver of the Gambia’s economy which generates foreign exchange earnings, creation of jobs and wealth as well as stipulates other sectors of the economy.
She added that MoFEA attaches great importance in promoting tourism in The Gambia for its ability to attract more tourists as a destination.
“The most important economic feature of activities related to the tourism is that they contribute to three high-priority goals of the country for generation of income, employment and foreign exchange earning which is aligned to the NDP 2018-2021 to raise the living standards of Gambians,” she added.
The new draft National Tourism Policy and Strategy was developed through a highly participatory process involving all stakeholders, site visits, as well as, in-depth and critical reviews and analysis which culminated in the preparation of two key documents, namely: A Comprehensive Diagnostic Study of the Tourism sector; and a Draft National Tourism Policy and Strategy- 2021-2030.