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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Expert says Gambia’s diverse heritage can boost tourism

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Dr Noh and two other colleagues, Dr Khairil Awang, associate professor at the University of Putra, Malaysia and Madam Nir Alisa, manager at the research division of Islamic Tourism Training Centre, were in the country to have a capacity building programme with stakeholders in the tourism industry. 

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“I have seen that The Gambia has lots of heritage sites- you have distinct cultures, the river- the country can make a quick promotion on these things especially by the tour operators. But it has to be offered on the daily basis or any time,” he said.

“You cannot have it like once a year in some places like in Kunta Kinteh Island- it should be an every time package for people to visit Kunta Kinteh Island for them to learn the history of Kunta Kinteh. If you talk about Kunta Kinteh, everybody around the world will know- to me this should be the quick wins for The Gambia because I have watched Kunta Kinteh’s movie myself since when I was young. The heritage and culture, apart from nature, is relevant to marketing the destination. But the country has to make sure that the first-time visit by these visitors be the best experience- the first impression must be right in order to spread the words about The Gambia.”   

Dr Noh made these remarks in an interview with The Standard at the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Training Institute (GTHTI) where key stakeholders in the sector concluded a two-day capacity building programme conducted by Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC)  on “tourism marketing”.

The Malaysian expert also advised authorities responsible for marketing Destination Gambia to leverage heavily on e-marketing, saying it is the most effective way of reach out at many prospective visitors.

He said: “Personally, I think the best way to promote The Gambia is through the internet- the country has to really leverage on e-marketing. Even in Malaysia, we believe that our traditional way of marketing the country using brochures, attending trade fairs and all the other events- the effects are not as much as the ones you do on the Internet. Sometimes when you use the Internet, you see adverts about a particular destination; these facilitate their reach across the world especially when you talk of couples, fiancées wanting to get married, or university students looking for places to visit- if they want to travel around the world, they use their tablets and smartphones to know which place is best to visit. And if they go to the Internet, they have the special package that you put there for tourists in your country. We do this in Malaysia- so if you want to put The Gambia on the world map, the fastest way is e-marketing.”

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