The tourism sector contributes about 20 percent to national GDP while agriculture supplies about 32 percent.
“Of course, it will be difficult for tourism to outdo agriculture because agriculture, in terms of contribution to the GDP, is huge. But I can tell you that whatever the contribution that tourism is having to the GDP, it will increase and more jobs will be created as the sector grows,” he said.
“And more importantly, if there is a strong link between the growth of tourism and agriculture because if tourism goes all year round, agricultural products will be consumed by those visitors and it will compel those agricultural producers to double their cultivations and thus leading to all year round cultivation…We have the chance in making sure that tourism outdo agriculture in this country in terms of GDP because we have the land available for any potential investor to come and invest in the country’s tourism sector and the government and all the stakeholders are also working extremely hard.
“We are actually working towards having lots of eco-tourism in this country and The Gambia is second to South Africa in terms of Eco Tourism. There are also some niche products in this country like fishing, gastronomy, eco-tourism and others. And when you have lot of niche products, it will be possible for us to target the niche markets.”
Mr Njie said this 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”.
He also revealed his institution’s plan to stage what is supposed to be the first bird fair in Africa in The Gambia in 2016, adding that the measures that GTB has used to sell Destination Gambia include using respective public relations firms in Europe and Nigeria.
He said: “One of the things we put in place includes the rebranding exercises of The Gambia and also some public relations firms have been contacted to actually promote The Gambia in others countries. For instance, we have contacted a PR firm UK, in Germany, in Belgium, in Holland, in Nigeria and we are about to appoint a PR firm in Russia and we are also looking into Turkey and Switzerland. So we are diversifying our reaches to the outside world and of course we do attend some prominent road shows and trade fairs. Example, the trade fair we recently attended is ITB in Berlin which is the biggest trade fair in the world.
“We also attend WTM in London and all this is geared towards having our targeted arrival by the year 2020. We also have the roots and food beverage festivals and now we are thinking of organising, in 2016, the first bird fare festival in Africa to be hosted in this country.”
On the need for the country to have its own national carrier, he said: “Well, having a national flight carrier will definitely help the development of the industry but that is just one factor but it is also crucial for us to encourage the already existing players in The Gambia like Gambia Experience, Turby et cetera, to increase their frequency- that is equally crucial.”]]>