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Gambia celebrates bird watching festival

Oct 24, 2016, 9:26 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture in collaboration with the Gambia Tourism Board together with people from diverse backgrounds at the weekend celebrated the International Bird Watching Festival at Tendaba Camp in Kiang.

Speaking on the occasion, Abdoulie Hydara, director general of GTBoard, said the gathering was the beginning of series of events marking the celebration of the maiden edition of the International Bird Watching Festival in The Gambia.

“The festival is a milestone in the annals of tourism in The Gambia and it will henceforth be part of the calendar of events of destination Gambia,” Mr Hydara said.

“Destination Gambia has a wide range of unique products including the rich cultural heritage, agreeable climate, gorgeous beaches as well as a very rich bird watching credentials.”

He pointed out that the GTBoard collaborated with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and other partners including Gambia Bird Watching Association to initiate the festival as part of efforts to raise the profile of the tourism industry as a sustainable, responsible and nature friendly industry.

GTBoard DG said besides fabulous tourism products, The Gambia is endowed with abundant peace and tranquility including a range of attractions that serve as a magnet to tourists and visitors to the shores of the Smiling Coast.

“Already, the Smiling Coast is frequented by a diverse range of seasoned and discerning birders to indulge in their favourite passion such as bird watching in the various birding destinations, which are rated very highly and preserved with care by The Gambia government,” he said.

He affirmed that the GTBoard and the Tourism Ministry would continue to explore the potentials of The Gambia in the quest to not only to diversify the tourism products, but to also increase the geographic scope of tourism.

DG Hydara said the diversification also entails a gradual shift in focus from the traditional package tour business and a gradual foray into niche tourism focusing on ecology related tourism and developing niche products such as bird watching and related products.

He said the bird watching festival is held at a strategic time as the 2016/2017 winter season is just about to start.

He noted that all the indications are that the forthcoming season will be “a bumper season”, following a very lean two-year period due to the notorious Ebola epidemic that had ravaged other parts of West Africa.

Bakary Jammeh, board chairman of GTBoard, said the international festival seeks to strengthen Gambia’s profile as one of the top birding destination in Africa.

He said the festival is designed in a way to amplify the commitment to rural and community tourism development, and it is also a reinforcement effort to support birding in destination Gambia.

Mr Jammeh said 50 per cent of the proceeds realised from the bird watching festival will be allocated to support the conservation of Kotu Creek, a very popular birding site in the tourism development area.