The minister of Tourism and Culture over the weekend laid the foundation stones of two eco-tourism camps in the Central River Region (CRR) and Upper River Region (URR).
The laying of the foundation stones of Jimara Eco Tourism Camp in Kunkilling Eco Tourism Forest Park in CRR and the Fulladu Tourism Camp in Sotuma Samba in URR was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, governors of CRR and URR, Director Generals of GTBoard, Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute (GTHI), National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC); National Assembly members, chiefs, Alkalolu, the contractor, Mr. Mendy of Lerr Group and members of the communities.
The three eco-lodges being built at Barra, Janjanbureh and Basse are meant to ensure that there are quality accommodation facilities outside of the Greater Banjul Area. These facilities when completed, will remove the main obstacle of the lack of suitable family accommodation, and it will enhance rural tourism visitations and open up the rural areas for greater investment and prosperity as required for in the NDP.
Speaking at the various occasions, Hon. Hamat N.K Bah, minister of Tourism and Culture, disclosed that during the last tour in November, His Excellency the President mentioned this project and that the laying of the foundation stones in these two regions are promises made by the government being fulfilled. This initiative he added will in a positive way exploit the potential of our River Gambia.
Minister Bah informed the gathering that this project of 5 hotels will cost D97million of which the GTBoard on behalf of the government of The Gambia have paid D38.5million as advanced payment. He reminded the governors of the 2 regions that this is tax payers’ money. He urged them to support the project. He also urged the contractors to employ the people who live around the area to enable them benefit from the project.
He added that this project is the vision of the government of President Barrow, who he said hails from this region. According to him, President Barrow has done wonderfully well in this country while describing him as a great man. He urged people to be patient as this country will be transformed within the next 2-3 years to a level unprecedented in the history of Africa.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Cordu Linguere Jabang-Senghore commended His Excellency the President Adama Barrow for the support and encouragement the sector is constantly receiving from him and Minister Bah for his leadership.
She urged the community of Janjanbureh and Basse to take ownership of the project and give support to the GTBoard and the contractor to ensure that the works are completed within the scheduled period and that they return here in few months’ time to inaugurate the completed facilities.
For his part, Abubakarr Camara, the acting director general of GTBoard, said this is part of the 5 Community Based Tourism (CBT) initiatives earmarked by the National Development Blue Print of the Government of The Gambia.
“Over the years, it has been a big problem having decent accommodation facilities upcountry and this has really affected the promotion and development of tourism in rural Gambia and more so domestic tourism. Thus, this initiative by the new Government of The Gambia will serve as a bench for all other facilities,” he stated.
Hence, he affirmed that the decision to develop upcountry tourism cum CBT by the Government of The Gambia could not have come at a better time; when it is highly predicted that the Covid-19 global pandemic could have a long-lasting impact on the consumption pattern of travellers leading to growing popularity of free and independent travel, luxury trips and more so domestic tourism.
“Thus, the initiative by Ministry of Tourism and Culture for the implementation of the CBTs as per the NDP is a blessing in disguise. Thus, I want to take the singular honour to thank the Hon. Ministers of Tourism and Culture; Environment, through his Director of Forestry, PS; MOTC, DPS; MOTC and staff; governor; chief; Alkalo; contractor; (Lerr Group), the consultant Sheikh Marfous, GTHI, NCAC, management and staff of the GTBoard for making the laying of the foundation stone possible,” DG Camara stated.
Mr. Mendy, the contactor, Lerr Group thanked the Director General of GTboard for giving us the opportunity to undertake this project while assuring the minister that the project will complete on time.