By Tabora Bojang
The Youth Empowerment Project has partnered with the Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia, the National Centre for Arts and Culture and other tourism institutions to develop a community-based tourism manual to support communities build capacity, skills, and attitude to develop, market and operate community-based tourism in line with international standards.
The manual will among others serve as a tourism development tool and guide for developing new products, enhance the marketing and development of community-based tourism for trainers, facilitators, educators, tour operators, and sales and marketing staff seeking new skills and tools to develop and market inspiring, fun, safe and responsible local tourism.
As part of the project, youths from several local communities in the Central River Region including Janjanbureh have been selected and trained by the YEP master trainers to identify products, build trust, and train community stakeholders to be able to deliver services to tourists.
The overall objective is to boost the tourist potential of Destination Gambia and help diversify its products and services to emerging markets thereby increasing arrivals and tourist spending, which implies a shift from the traditional marketing slogan of sand, sun, and sea.
Speaking at the launch of the manual at the West Africa Insurance Institute in Kololi, ITTOG boss Sheikh Tijan Nyang, said “with the launch of this manual, we are hopeful that with the commitment of our core team, we will be able to address most, if not all our challenges of back way migration, rural-urban drift among other challenges we face in our communities today. As partners, we have adopted the principle of united we stand divided we fall. Our success lies in our commitment to work together as a team in fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of our people in the provision of skills and means of survival through responsible tourism principles.”
Nyang explained that ITTOG has been working ‘tirelessly’ with its partners and tourism actors, to build the capacity of several stakeholders during the past four years in community-based tourism as a critical pillar of tourism development.
“I wish to thank YEP, our trainers from Thailand, and all partners in this exercise for their hard work and contribution to the success of achieving our goals in the production of this manual,” he added.
Demba Y Baldeh who represented the NCAC described community-based tourism as a tool for poverty alleviation, sustainable community development, and ending rural-urban migration.
Baldeh, wo is also a master trainer for the project, averred that the NCAC is fully committed and pleased to associate itself with community development initiatives geared towards impacting the lives of the people.