Make Tourist Money Work for Everyone

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tourism and the money it generates must be made to benefit all the people of The Gambia. If it does not then it is nothing more than a scourge to the nation. People from all over the world flock to The Gambia to enjoy the warm sunshine the famous welcome of the Gambian people and they are very welcome. They bring much needed investment and contribute significantly to the economy of the nation. What must be ensured is that this money benefits the entire nation. It must not simply be allowed to go into the pockets of wealthy business people or foreign companies.

It is for this reason that it is so heartening to read about Gambian Longevity through Village Education (GLOVE) a charity registered in The Gambia in June last year. This charity is significantly improving the lives of the villagers of Sam Mbullet in Lower Numi District in the North Bank Region. This is exactly the kind of tourism we need.

Speaking at a recent press conference Madam Jackie Church, founder cum Project Director of GLOVE, recounted various ways the charity is helping to improve the lives of the rural poor people of Sam Mbullet a settlement of seven hundred people.

She said Tilly's Tours is promoting tourism up country thus helping GLOVES achieve it objectives. Since its foundation less than a year ago the charity, through tourists coming to the Tilly's Tours, has managed to donate educational materials, medical items, vegetable seeds, clothes, a community centre, 153 treated mosquito bed nets, sponsorship for 28 children, chlorinating of wells and a number of footballs. "This shows you how much tourism can be used to alleviate poverty in The Gambia," Madam Church stressed. It is wonderful to hear comments of this kind and it certainly highlights the fact that there are many tourists coming to this country who want to see the money they spend contributing to our national socio-economic development.

GLOVE must also be commended for the way in which they are approaching their work. While they are a charitable organisation they are aiming to make their work sustainable.

According to Madam Church, their focus now is on long-term agriculture through micro irrigation, small-scale enterprise development including tie and dye and soap making to enable the village to become self-sufficient.

Cognisant of the significance of farming in The Gambia GLOVE intends to work with engineers from the UK and the US to help the village with an irrigation system for the purpose of farming and to help compose fertilizer.

Madam Church emphasised that if all tour operators in the country are doing what Tilly's Tours is doing more people in the rural areas will also benefit from tourism directly. She called on the people to support Tilly's Tours in whatever way they can to enable them continue helping more people. We couldn't agree more and hope that more and more tourists will listen to these wise words.

"God loveth the Cheerful giver."

The Bible.