By Tabora Bojang
The Gambia Tourism Board in collaboration with Gambia Hotel Association and tourism stakeholders recently validated The Gambia hotel classification and service standards manual, at a local hotel in Kotu.
The document aims towards improving quality standards and service delivery in the country’s tourism and hospitality industry, since customer care and service standard is seen as a particular weakness within the industry.
According to the stakeholders, the setting of a national operational benchmark system for all hotel categories in the Gambia, will promote a quality competitive tourist market by increasing service qualities and standards for hotels in meeting customer expectations.
The Chairman GTB Governing Board Bakary K Jammeh said, the delivery of quality tourism products is shown, to be increasingly important in influencing travel behaviour, adding that for too long both local and international tourists “lack assurances that our hotels have been assessed and approved by independent third parties.”
“The lack of classification and service standards impedes hotels ability to demonstrate commitment to quality, design and training of target activities. These standards serve as an important marketing tool and key business differentiator as the quality of standard offered is a determinant of customer choice.”
Chairman Jammeh said the timely review and adoption of quality service standard reliability with classification and labels would improve the quality of tourism products as he calls for concerted, inclusive efforts from all key stakeholders in the implementation of the manual.
He noted the potential standardisation of quality service systems in the Gambia is benchmark with EU level.
The Director General of the Gambia Tourism Board Abdoulie Hydara, urged stakeholders to take advantage of the validation as a yardstick to measure in line with international standards which is “the expected quality and standards of both accommodations and services in our hotels”.
He said the event is a significant milestone in the country’s drive to improving quality service standards in the industry and it would place destination Gambia on top in terms of competition with other destinations.
“Grading and classification assist travel agents and operators to understand the product and thus match supply and demand. This could not have come at the better time than now, when the government has allocated lands for the construction of at least 10 out of brand new hotels of 4 and 5 star categories within the next 18 months,” DG Hydara said.
Minister Hamat Bah of Tourism, said the government is “determined and ready to support the industry at every level and ready to do more in tourism than any aspect”, which he said, has become a priority sector in the National Development Plan of the government.
He expressed optimism in the dynamism and transparency of the industrial stakeholders towards improving quality of infrastructure, products and services.