By Momodou Darboe
The Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute (GTHI) is struggling to retain trained chefs and other hospitality staff in the countryside despite the relatively higher pay and better working conditions.
The GTHI has last year rolled out an ambitious expansion project in various regions of the country but the institute is beset with the twin problems of rural-urban drift and trained females going into matrimonial homes.
The main objective of the project is to synchronize the government’s current tourism infrastructural build-up with quality services with strong focus on local capacity building.
GTHI says it is in a race against time because the infrastructures may be fully implemented half-a-year from last month.
“Building the structures is expensive and we cannot wait because the structures may finish in six-month’s time,” Dawda Niang, Director General of GTHI, told journalists as the whole-country tour of tourism and heritage sites by tourism minister Hamat Bah continues.
GTHI is aiming at filling the local capacity gaps in areas such as cookery and pastry and if the necessary support is given, it will also venture into filling the countryside’s huge gap in bakery.
However, as youths in the rural Gambia grow more adventurous and young females highly susceptible to marriage, GTHI is also falling over backwards to mature women with high chances of staying in the rural areas.
“We encourage mature women to enlist in [our] trainings. They seem to be reliable but training should be continuous,” GTHI boss stated.
“You can train people but you cannot force them to get employment. There are youths who want to be selective and they choose to go to the coast. We trained 400 people and the last batch we trained was in CRR and URR,” he added.