Tourism is an important component of the Gambian economy and plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of the country. It contributes between 16 to 20 percent to the country’s GDP and provides employment for more than 100,000 people both directly and indirectly. Evidence shows that every person employed in tourism usually supports between seven and ten people, so the reality is that the impact on an economy, which relies so heavily on tourism is dramatic.
However, there are strong indications that aggressive steps will be taken to revitalise the sector. The resolve of of the Ministry of Tourism and the Gambia Tourism Board to resell Destination Gambia is apt. This is because every industry worth its salt devotes considerable resources to research and development, marketing, advertising, public relations, and all the related activities that keep the product in the consumer’s eye and encourage purchases.
There is no doubt that the evident decline that has hit the coastal tourist resorts has had a serious effect on the region’s social and economic environment and of course on the national economic performance. Therefore, the government should pump resources substantially more into the effort and also look into partnering with hotels, tour operators, airlines, and other industry players for a sustained and coordinated approach.
Whatever arrangement is made this time should be more firm and concrete. If need be, the stakeholders should diversify their approach in reaching out to the outside world. These should include rebranding exercises and also partnering with public relations firms abroad to actually promote The Gambia in others countries.
Perhaps, it is also vital that as our tourism sector recovers from external shocks, the government does all it can to reassure visitors that The Gambia remains a safe and enjoyable holiday destination. We have the chance in making sure that tourism regains its glory and as well work towards achieving the 500,000 tourist arrival target set by the Ministry of Tourism in the next five years.
Ultimately, however, the solution to sell Destination Gambia will lie, not just in advertising, but in making the country safer and more fun for all visitors whose word of mouth endorsements will be far more valuable than any marketing campaign.]]>