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ATA Congress pledges to build new partnership

May 28, 2010, 2:07 PM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

The Africa Travel Association's 35 Annual Congress held in Banjul ended with a commitment among African tourism stakeholders to boost efforts to develop new public private partnerships devoted to advocating for and developing the tourism industry in Africa. Honourable Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, Gambia's Minister of Tourism and Culture and incoming ATA President, close the event that was attended by more than 300 participants, as well as press representatives from Africa, Europe and North America.

In her closing remarks, the Tourism minister highlighted the importance of tourism as an engine for economic growth and prosperity.

"This may marka successful event, but also marks the beginning of our joint efforts to work in partnership with the public and private sector to promote the travel and tourism industry to and within Africa.

"The Gambia was a proud host of this event and hopes that our infectious spirit will inspire other countries and tourism stakeholders to action."

During the meeting, ATA announced a number of milestones for making a strong case for increased investment in the tourism industry. ATA members and friends have shown that we are truly committed to promoting tourism to Africa, as a means to promoting socio-economic development, said Edward Bergman, ATA Executive Director.

"I know that when we return to our home countries, we will continue to work in partnership with tourism stakeholders in the public and private sectors to promote the industry, and inspire others to follow our example."

Congress milestones include the announcement of the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Africa Union and ATA.

The MOU, which was signed by Honourable Shamsa Mwangunga of Tanzania and Dr. Elham M.A. Ibrahim, Africa Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, declared that the two organisations will undertake a commitment to develop collaboration in the area of travel and tourism promotion.

Also, the launch of a joint effort by New York University's Africa House, the World Bank and ATA to make a case for developing Africa's tourism industry with the preparation of the joint publication "The State of Tourism in Africa." During the industry workshops and networking events, ATA and UNWTO engaged in discussions on how the two global organisations would pursue collaboration and cooperation in the areas of travel and tourism development in Africa in the future.

The Gambia organizing committee, meanwhile, announced its commitment to hosting the Carbon Off-Set ATA Congress. In addition to planting seedlings to grow an ATA Forest at the GIG Forest, the committee limited the carton footprint of the congress by ordering produce from the award-winning project "Gambia is Good", which sources all its produce from local producers. On the first of two host country days, delegates visited James Island and Juffureh. James Island is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was a base of transportation of slaves from The Gambia to other parts of the world.  Following the day-long visit to James Island and Juffreh, the delegates enjoyed a special cocktail reception at the luxury hotel, Coco Ocean Resort and Spa. The evening was co-hosted by the US Ambassador to The Gambia, HE Barry Wells.