By: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang (NEA)
The principal of the Institute of Travel and Tourism in the Gambia (ITTOG) has defined tourism as activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes. He called on communities who are blessed with eco-tourism facilities to professionally harness them and promote tourism while creating employment, improving livelihoods and thus fostering unity amongst the community.
Sheikh Tijan Nyang make this lectures at the official opening ceremony of a three-day sensitization training workshop for community members of the COAST project demo-sites, sustainable tourism operators and workers. It also intends to inject responsible tourism knowledge into the nerves of eco-tourism operators within the locality, tourist resorts owners, games and reserves operators within the project demo-sites of Tumani Tenda, Denton Bridge and Kartong.
Held at Tesito Eco-Camp in the Kombo South eco-village of Kartong, the training was organized by the Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Tourism (COAST) Project, a sustainable livelihood project being implemented by the National Environment Agency in collaboration with Gambia Tourism Board on behalf of the Gambia Government in collaboration with Kartong Association for responsible Tourism (KART). At this cross-learning session with people who are at the helm of business, over 25 of them were invited to go through a rigorous curriculum tailored to suit them.
According to COAST project Demo-site coordinator Abubacarr Kujabi, the project aims to demonstrate best practices and strategies to reduce the degradation of marine and coastal environments of trans-boundary significance, and to enhance sustainable tourism practices. The project`s long term goal, he said is to support and enhance the conservation of globally significant coastal and marine eco-systems and associated biodiversity in sub-Saharan Africa, through the reduction of negative environmental impacts which they receive as a result of coastal tourism.
Furthermore, Kujabi revealed that the project is to demonstrate best practices & strategies to reduce the degradation of marine and coastal environments of trans-boundary significance, and to enhance sustainable tourism practices approaches for sustainable tourism sector in Africa. The main activities of the project in Kartong would include promotion of village tours, introduce camping, cross village excursions, sports tourism, promoting/developing craft, bicycle hiring, Gambian home cooking demonstrations, and the training and awareness rising on sustainable environment management in the Gambia`s hospitality and tourism industry.
Senior Programme Officer (SPO) Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) at the National Environment Agency Momodou Jaama Suwareh who chaired the opening ceremony thanked the participants this first of its kind training on responsible tourism for members of the local eco-tourism operators within local communities. Their commitment to training and practice at work, according to him is a testimony that the project will be sustainable and thus meeting its objectives.