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Gambia leads in responsible tourism globally

Dec 20, 2010, 12:48 PM | Article By: Sanna Camara

Regarded as the “Smiling Coast of Africa”, The Gambia is now heralded on the world stage as a leader in responsible tourism movement, and to that effect, the country has received more international awards, revealed the minister of Tourism, Fatou Mass Jobe.

She noted that although South Africa was the first country to have a responsible tourism policy, The Gambia had become the second to follow suit two years later. Today, she said, the country is the leader in the implementation of the policy globally.

The tourism minister made these revelations at the10th Anniversary celebrations of Association of Small Scale Entrepreneurs in Tourism (ASSET) held in Kartong recently.

“It is ASSET and its members who have had the honour of this worldwide recognition that has raised the profile of The Gambia and our tourism products in a positive way each time they step forward to receive their trophies,” said Minister Jobe.

She noted that the venue for the celebrations (Sandele Eco camp) in Kartong is an example of the open-mindedness and genuine commitment to the principles of social enterprise that ASSET promotes.

She hailed the organisation for wining international prizes, two awards for being the best in poverty alleviation awarded to ASSET and The Gambia is Good project.

The Tourism minister comended all those who had contributed most to the development of responsible tourism practices.

She spoke on the two awards: for being the best tourism products worldwide, which, she said, went to Safari gardens and Makasutu; and the prestigious Guardian and Observer Ethical Tourism Award that was handed to Sandele Camp.

This glittering array of titles, according to Ms Jobe, shows that tourism agencies in the wider world share her ministry’s recognition of ASSET’s extra-ordinary commitment to ensuring that the benefits of tourism are shared by all players in the destination, particularly people at the grassroots.

The chairperson of ASSET, Ms Nyanya Jagne, gave an overview of her organisation. She said ASSET was formed in April 2000 “in order to bring together, advocate for and promote a large number of small enterprises that were active in the tourism industry of the Gambia”.

Ms Nyang said it was fitting that the celebrations took place in Kartong and at Sandele since both had been supported and inspired by ASSET in a variety of different ways.

“There has been a long history of joint work between ASSET and Kartong, and the Kartong Association of Responsible Tourism (KART) has been developed to mirror the good work that has been achieved at national level within the village,” she said.