May 27, 2011, 2:52 PM
A joint tourism promotion and marketing programme between The Gambia and Ghana has been planned to commence by the end of this year.
The initiative involves a knowledge exchange programme by which staff of Ghanaian and Gambian tourism facilities will undertake industrial attachments for on-the-job skills upgrade.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the joint tourism promotion programme between the two countries states that both countries will enter into a multiple destination agreement by which a tourist who buys a ticket to visit The Gambia will, automatically, visit the other country as one package.
Many other fine and beneficial initiatives, such as cultural exchange programmes, drama and dance groups from each country, as well as strengthening private sector activities through tourism, have been discussed between the two parties.
But it is sad to note that such plans and efforts would hardly succeed owing to the fact that a direct flight linking the two countries is unavailable to facilitate movement of people and business between both destinations, which is really serving as a spoke in our wheel.
“The biggest threat to efforts at any joint Ghana-Gambia tourism cooperation is the absence of a direct flight linking the two countries,” the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) president was quoted as saying by media reports.
The GHATOF president was also quoted as saying there were moves in consultation with the Board of Airline Representatives in Ghana to remedy the situation, after Gambia Air, which used to fly to Accra, has ceased operation.
With all the good plans being put in place to promote tourism and cultural exchange between both countries, moves are still at consultative stage to remedy the situation of flight deficiency between the two countries!
These are some of the reasons good plans or dreams hardly come to fruition, or succeed in Africa.
If the fundamental conditions for growth and development are not really put in place it would require a miracle for such joint-national plans or agreements to succeed.
The essence of having regional flights linking countries in the sub-region needs not be overemphasised.
Without regular and efficient flights linking the region, movement of people and trade or business transactions between nations will be greatly hindered, and growth and development would hardly be meaningfully realised.
Hence we in The Gambia cannot afford to go on without regular flights linking us with our West African neighbours.
Our authorities in the region would need to come together to do something about this impeding situation as regards regional flights in West Africa.
The Gambia Bird, a Gambian-based airline company, which was connecting countries, people, and economies, has had to fold for one reason or the other, leaving the skies empty, people stranded and regional business retarded.
We, therefore, need to seriously and urgently start to address this retarding situation.
make it possible to achieve our joint regional agreements in tourism.”