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Smiling Coast Tours to Operates Soon

Jan 16, 2009, 5:49 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

Mr Pa Lamin Sarr, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of  Smiling Coast Tours, a potential International tour operator, has disclosed to The Point his plans to bring his first group of tourists in July 2009. A product of the University of The Gambia (UTG), Sarr holds a Masters Degree in Business Marketing from the MurrayStateUniversity in Kentucky.

Speaking in an interview with our Tourism and Entertainment writer, Njie Baldeh recently, he explained that his aim is to bring the American market closer to The Gambia by bringing in American tourists and providing them with the experience of a lifetime. He however revealed that this will be done through organising packages of tours for Americans who wants to visit The Gambia by taking them to different places. This, he said, will also give them first hand knowledge of the country. "We hope to give tourists a real experience of the country by interacting directly with the local people so as to learn about our rich cultural heritage and way of life," he explained.

He said after attaining his Masters in Business Administration, with a concentration in Business Management, "I looked into different opportunities to see which was best for me. I eventually chose tourism, being our number one provider in terms of GDP. I realised that  US tourists mostly do not come to The Gambia, so I want to makes that link with the US market. What makes my company different from others in terms of operation is that we have an educational and volunteering aspects," he said.

According to Sarr, his company, being an International tour operator with partners in The Gambia, also plans to bring US students who may wish to earn credit for their adventure in The Gambia. Being a degree holder from the University of The Gambia, I thought it right to link UTG with other US Universities.

"I feel it is my duty as a member of the Alumni of the UTG to give something back to it to help improve it to higher levels," he said. He also developed the possibility of bringing US University students, Professors and Teachers for various programmes. This, he believes, will also help the UTG in terms of technical assistance. US students can take the UTG curriculum to their professors and work with them design a highly individualised course of independent study in the fields of Business Management, Humanities, Science, Medicine, Conservation, Community Development or any other related course.

The other aspect of volunteering, according to Mr Sarr, is a product augmentation strategy he intends to use to play his role in the socio-economic development of the country. "I will be working with International donors and philanthropists who wish to come The Gambia and provide assistance to the citizens in any aspect of life," he said.

According to Mr Sarr, the biggest competition is from Senegal and Ghana, which are visited by a lot of American tourists. This is because of easy access to flights between US and these destinations. "So if we are competing with them, we need it will not be a regular flight, but at least once a month. I know that The Gambia Tourism Authority GTA is doing all it can to make this a reality. With Smiling Coast Tours, you be come part of the community, get to know the local people and become much more than a tourist. We will offer people the opportunity to work with girls education, impoverished people, and in gender awareness," he stated.