“Marketing is everybody’s business because each and every one of us has a role to play in marketing The Gambia as a destination- not just the responsibility of just the Gambia Tourism Board. Tourism marketing is very wide,” he said.
Mr Roberts made these remarks yesterday at the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Training Institute (GTHTI) where key stakeholders in the sector are having a two-day capacity building programme being conducted by Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Tourism Capacity Building Programme on ‘tourism marketing.’
The minister added: “I will hope that we will seize the opportunity and make the session very interactive and productive. On the side of government, we are very appreciative to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference for the help. We are very grateful to our Malaysian colleagues who have come here to help us in broadening our understanding of tourism marketing, be it conventional tourism marketing or Islamic tourism marketing. I think during these two days that we have our friends from Malaysia with us, we should critically engage them and ask questions and explore the marketing focuses we have and ask if they are ideal, if they aren’t, what we should change and how should that change come about. Perhaps you should also look at online trends in tourism marketing and its effectiveness and I also want you to look at the cost of conventional tourism marketing and online marketing in terms of the reach.”
Also speaking at the programme, Abdoulie Hydara, director of Gambia Tourism Board, hailed the Malaysian experts who are doing the capacity building programme saying tourism is an industry that requires continuous capacity building. He said the peace and friendly nature of The Gambia has made it a preferable tourism destination.
He said: “The Gambia is a very peaceful country with always a genuine smile and that is our biggest strength as a tourism destination. We are pleased to have it here, this very special training opportunity of marketing tourism as a destination. Tourism is an industry that requires continuous capacity building for continuous development of the different products that exist in that industry. Capacity building is very critical and central to the development of the industry as a whole. Therefore, we must make the best use of this training so that by the end of the programme we will be able to cross-fertilise with the members of other institutions and colleagues in the industry what we have learned.”
Speaking on behalf of the Malaysian delegation, Dr Nirwan Noh, director of Research and Training at the Islamic Tourism Centre, said the proximity of The Gambia to most Western countries has made it a prospective tourism hub.
He said: “To us The Gambia has the advantage of having the European countries close by- they can be here in 4 hours whereas for us it may take 12 hours. We come here in the spirit of collaboration. We have come to just share our experience and as Malaysians, we don’t see ourselves as that far ahead of The Gambia. We are learning just as we are sharing from other countries. The training in tourism is important for the understanding of the technicalities in the industry but from a policy perspective, it is also relevant for government to look into other key sectors that will contribute to the development of the tourism sector.”
Recently, key stakeholders in the tourism sector have intensified efforts aimed at selling the country’s tourism products to sister countries in the sub-region, particularly Nigeria.
Other trainers were 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.]]>