Oct 22, 2010, 1:26 PM
Fatou Mass Jobe, minister of Tourism and Culture, last Tuesday laid the foundation stone for the new Fajara Craft Market.
The ceremony was attended by senior government officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Local Government and Lands as well as officials of the Gambia Tourism Authority (GTA).
Speaking at the official laying of the foundation stone, Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, Minister of Tourism and Culture, said that in September 2010, her ministry, in collaboration with the GTA, and other tourism stakeholders, conducted a tour of craft markets in the Greater Banjul Area.
"This was in cognisance of the role of the informal sector in our drive towards economic growth, which forms the core of government’s poverty alleviation strategies," she said.
Hon. Jobe-Njie added that apart from the numerous issues noted to be affecting craft markets, the condition of the Fajara Craft Market stood out as a case that required urgent attention.
"I have been touched by their faith and strong perseverance over the years and as such, I made a promise to work towards a better condition for the craft market vendors.
As a major contributor to national development, Minister Jobe-Njie says tourism infrastructure and product development is as important to the industry as it is to the country as a whole.
Through product consolidation and improvement, marketing, promotion and investment in tourism will be greatly enhanced, she avers.
"This project underpins my Ministry’s strong desire to revitalise tourism in terms of quality and standards, with a view to ensuring the sustainable development of this vital sector, which by all standards is poised to contribute meaningfully towards the realisation of Vision 2020," she said.
The new craft market will no doubt add value to the country's tourism product in promoting local culture, arts and crafts as well as in generating employment opportunities for Gambians.
"(This) is very critical in our drive to change lives and alleviate poverty in our society," the Tourism minister said.
She also extended her sincere gratitude to the promoters of the Fajara Water Front project, for their desire to contribute to the improvement of livelihoods, particularly for the women of Fajara Craft Market and fruit vendors, who form the majority the primary beneficiaries.