Jul 18, 2011, 2:03 PM
The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie, on Tuesday presented a bill before deputies at the National Assembly entitled an Act to repeal the Gambian Tourism Authority Act and to replace it with a new entity called “The Gambian Tourism Board Bill 2011 (GTB 2011 bill).
The new bill shall stipulate the rules and regulations for the coordination, administration and marketing of tourism in The Gambia and related matters.
In presenting the new bill, Minister Jobe-Njie said tourism is now the most important industry in terms of employment creation and generation of foreign exchange apart from the agriculture sector.
It contributes more to GDP with a proportion of about 18 %, she noted.
However, she lamented that over the past few years this percentage has been gradually decreasing reflecting a general decline in the overall performance of the tourism industry.
“When the GTA was incorporated in 2001 it has a much clear focus on marketing, and conducted its activities more successfully in the early days,” she said.
Greater responsibility has been given to the authority for further developments, capacity building and industrial regulations, to point out where little money is spent on marketing activity, and less than 60 % of the budget is applied to marketing and promotion of destinations.
“In order to reverse the negative trends highlighted above, it is necessary for strong efforts to be made to increase tourism visitation, upgrade the product to attract higher spending tourists and ultimately attract more individual travellers through the expansion of scheduled air traffic to The Gambia,” she highlighted.
According to Minister Jobe-Njie, the best way to achieve this is by implementing the recommendations of the tourism development master plan of 2006 and the Gambia Tourism Authority institutional review of 2008.
“Moreover it is generally recognised that if tourism is to develop in a sustainable manner, a more appropriate regulatory and marketing institute is required and this can only be provided by the Gambia Government,” she said.
“The Gambia Government fondly believes that there should be a more focus, robust and research oriented institution that would provide clear direction and sustainable policymaking, human and financial support and most importantly seek responsibility for the international marketing and promotion of The Gambia.”
The bill is in line with the best practice in change management, Hon. Jobe said, adding that her ministry is with the conviction that the reform will ultimately increase tourism visitation and add value to The Gambia’s tourism product.
On air access, the tourism minister said Condor Airline will start flying to The Gambia with effect from 1 November 2011.
“Condor Airline was flying to The Gambia some years ago but they seize operations about four years ago,” she said.
“We are able to win the hearts and minds of the Condor executives to come to The Gambia and start operations, through a joint marketing campaign whereby The Gambia was asked to contribute 50,000 euros, because that is the trend, and marketing The Gambia outside is quite expensive and we need nothing less than 3 million dollars per annum to sell the destination aggressively.”
With the participation of stakeholders, they were able to raise the 50,000 euros requested for by Condor Airline, she said, adding that all the hotels “stand to benefit” from the deal.
The bill was seconded by Honourables Kalifa Jammeh, Mama Kandeh, and Foday Jimani Manka, members for Bakau, Jimara and Janjangbureh respectively.
Members of the Assembly welcomed the GTB 2011bill.
Deputies also considered and approved the motion on the setting up of the Gambian Scout Association Parliamentary Network and the mover for the said motion was the Honourable Nominated Member Seedy Njie.