The Gambia is considered to be a small country with an approximate land area of 11,295 square kilometers and is located on the western coast of Africa. The population density of Gambia has been around 176.1 per square kilometers according to the Census 2013. The economy of the Gambia is uplifted by farming, fishing and tourism. Agriculture and farming practices are traditionally subsistence in nature and its reliance is more on the production of groundnuts. The Gambia tried to diversify with cotton, vegetables, and livestock but recently tourism has developed in the country with well equipped sector of tourism infrastructure. The estimated GDP for 2013 is $903.5 million and the countries ranks 172nd on the HDI ranking list. The dynamic sector in the economy is Tourism which is subject to instantaneous growth and generation of employment opportunities. The government of Gambia allocates budgetary resources to this sector and also encourages private investment by attracting private hotels and restaurants so that their resources can be used to improve the quality of the services as well as the usage of the tourism development area would be fully utilized. (Fund, 2009)
The government of Gambia has centered tourism development as the priority sector and aims to achieve the objective of rendering world class tourist destination and a business hub. The Gambia’s tourism board is in charge of the tourism sector in Gambia and has the power to formulate, initiate and execute policies. The strategic framework of the government’s national Tourism Master Plan in the view of long term development has the objective of enhancing and attracting international tourism from new as well as existing markets, formulating new tourism products and marketing strategies. The main of the tourism board of the Gambia is rendering world class service of high quality to the tourists and catering to the needs of all kinds of visitors. (Euromonitor.com, 2015)
The total contribution to GDP in 2013 by the tourism & Travel sector was 8106.1mn (21.8% of GDP) and is forecasted to increase by 3.9% p.a. to 12250.9 by 2024 (17.9% of GDP). (Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2014 Gambia, 2014)
This reflects the economic activity caused by the industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services.
The total contribution of travel and tourism department towards employment was 125500 jobs in 2013 (around 18.7% of total employment). It is forecasted to support 144000 jobs which is 15.4% of total employment by 2024.
We can infer from the chart that in the year 2014, the number of jobs in the Gambia has declined but thereafter by 2024 the jobs will rise.
Gambia was successfully attracted capital investment about 1112.9mn in 2013 and further by 2024 there will be a forecasted rise in capital investment by 11.5% p.a. which is 2646.4mn in 2024.
It is also expected that travel and tourism department of Gambia would increase its contribution of total national investment from 11.5% in 2014 to 14.9% in 2024.
The number of arrivals in the Gambia in terms of international tourism is depicted below:
From the chart we can conclude that for the years 2010 and 2011 the number of visitors had declined but by 2012 international tourism in the Gambia took pace and increased the number of visitors.
The international tourism in the Gambia attracts a lot of receipts in terms of export earnings.
The percentage of total earnings is depicted by consistent levels over the years.
The government of the Gambia attracts a lot of investors by offering them with unique and improved opportunities of investment which are financially and economically sound and stable. With the help of The Gambia Investment & Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), the government of the Gambia has successfully established trade and investment environment that caters to the need of the investors, the country vision 2020.
The infrastructural facilities in the Gambia have improved by installing better connectivity in terms of railways, roads and airports.
(All data source: Data.worldbank.org, 2015)
The policy of the government on the tourism in the Gambia is to promote tourism and identify its contribution to the country’s economic growth. The objective is to increase the involvement and contribution of tourism to the economy and thereby raise the living standards of the citizens of the Gambia. The Responsible Tourism Policy(Accessgambia.com, 2015) had been prepared by the Responsible Tourism partnership in order to combat the negative impacts.
With combined effort of the Gambian government and the environmental agencies the planning policy:
The Gambian government takes tourism seriously and ensures that it has minimal impact on the environment. The Tourism Board of Gambia and its policies will: (Euromonitor.com, 2015)
The Gambia is a popular winter sun destination but the citizens are not benefitting from the tourism. The government of the Gambia initiated the marketing of the Gambia to packaged tour operators with the view of attracting more foreign exchange earnings and increase in the foreign direct investment. But the main proportion of the revenues earned remained in the countries of origin which left debt and poverty for the country.
The situation got worse when the British Foreign Office directed the British citizens not to travel or visit the Gambia after the violent coup attempt in the year 1994. The management personnel of many hotels brought this situation to limelight internationally by forming the Gambian Tourism Concern (GTC). The work of the GTC was to develop linkages with a Gambian organization and Britain and encourage them to promote fair trade in tourism and eradicate poverty. A workshop with the British High Commission concluded that small organizations required to operate and work together in order to improve their capacity if earning. This led to the formation of the Association of Small Scale Enterprise in Tourism (ASSET) which developed further linkages between the small scale enterprises and mainstream tourism in order to multiply the effects. Apart from this the UK Department for International Development took initiatives by providing fund through Tourism Challenge Fund (TCF) and organized a 20 month project to boost the linkage between the informal and the formal sector in the Gambia. It also aimed as recognizing the barriers that were required to overcome to raise the revenues and ensure the success of the informal sector. (Statehouse.gm, 2015)
The objective of the industry was to develop a collaborative work environment where partnerships between the government, the private sector and the informal sector would flourish. There are several stances of increased earnings by the fruit sellers, juice pressers, licensed guides and craft markets. For instance, the fruit sellers do not hover around the beach with their fruit basket and pester the tourists. The fruit sellers had developed connections with each other, tourists and the hotel owners through a code of conduct. The fruit sellers now work collectively in the form of a society and also contribute a small amount to a communal fund. This fund along with the funding from the TCF enabled 26 women to acquire stall with a image of high quality for the purpose of selling their fruits.
The Code of Conduct applies to all the players of the tourism field. Suppose that the licensed guides violate this code of conduct then as they can be suspended or uniforms be taken away or licenses may be canceled as a consequence. (Propoortourism.info, 2015)
National Tourism Strategy and Planning- The Gambia Tourism Authority (GTA) developed this National Tourism Strategy and Planning to encourage the private sector to come forward and develop products of tourism. But with the large debts over the four decades and the high interest rate and the lending rates were discouraging the private investors to invest. The strategy taken by the GTA was pro-poor and responsible tourism centered. The poverty strategies include:
The GTA had developed organization wide policies and procedures which is committed to develop training programmes to enhance skill, delivering incentive schemes to encourage quality performance and innovative ideas to enhance behavior and executing systems to observe and control the performance of the industry. (Mitchell and Faal, 2007)
To attract foreign investors to promote tourism the government of Gambia exempted international investors from customs duties imposed on approved capital equipment, machines, appliances, fixtures and fittings, custom duties imposed on approved amounts of semi finished goods, raw materials and other supplies for the production process, withhold tax on dividends, sales tax, turnover tax etc.
To encourage the tourism traffic during May to October (low season of tourism), the government of the Gambia offers the tour operator, airlines, hotels, and ground operators 25% discounts on aircraft handling charges and aircraft landing and parking fees for all charter flights of the tourists and 50% discount on sales tax for hotels and ground operators.
The goals of the policy is to increase the employment opportunities and developing competitiveness and help the government to provide proper condition for development actions and to coordinate between the government and private tourism entrepreneurs overseas. (Npc.gov.gm, 2015)
The main aim of the policies and strategies was to promote tourism in the Gambia. But certain aspects that are overlooked may make these policies less effective. (Dabour, 2003)
When on one hand there is a classification standard for hotels, on the other hand the hotels are concentrated away from the coastal enclave. The government has exercised development control, land ownership and marketing powers but there poor use resulted in a constraint to diversification of the hotels. The policy also stated improving infrastructure but the potential source of the fund for infrastructure had eroded because fees paid by the developers for the land of tourism had not raised the creation of the Tourism Development Area. To attract tourists during the low season the government had offered incentive schemes to the hotels and the tourist but the policy can be implemented correctly if better marketing strategies are adopted and the diversify the tourism product. Apart from this improvement in the Human Resource development needs an urgent policy which will led to the formation of some hotel and hospitality management schools. This will enhance the training skill and provide education to tourism entrepreneurs. (Bah, 2003)
The Gambia had a record of child trafficking cases for sexual purpose as well as female sex tourism is high in this area. The government had adopted too policies address violence against children by updating the National Plan of Action on Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (CSEC), established children helpline, established Community Child Protection Committee and many other initiatives. (Vaidya and Nigam, n.d.)
Recently, the disease Ebola(Topping, 2014) took a toll on the tourism of the Gambia which accounts for a decrease in the revenues accrued from this sector. The local Gambian hotel owner were worried on the fact that hotel were just 47% full as against 67% in the previous year. The government had taken possible effective measure by Ebola screening, social media campaigns and 24- hour toll free helpline. And finally Gambia was declared Ebola free by the WHO. (Bah, 2015)
The focus of the developmental strategies of the tourism in the Gambia must be on sustainable development and management of tourism, provide tourism oriented education and programmes that covers different aspect of tourism, improving infrastructure related to tourism like better quality and efficiency of hotels, amenities it provides, roads, transportation and communications, strengthen the public-private cooperation, attract international investors, diversify the product of tourism, enhance the banking and financial services and many other. This means that there is a tremendous scope for improvement of the tourism in the Gambia.
The tourism policy in the Gambia is capacious but diverges from its originality when it comes to the implementation of these policies. But there are several barriers to the success of the tourism in the Gambia which have been discussed in the report. The case study discussed reveals that the policy taken by the government of the Gambia is effective in some cases but the aspect that tourism needs to focus is on the marketing skills, infrastructural development and the sufficient investment in the tourism. The Gambia has the potential to enhance Heritage tourism which will contribute to the economy of the Gambia. To attract enormous amounts of tourist effective tourism marketing plans must be implemented. (Sharpley, 2009)
Accessgambia.com, (2015). Gambia Responsible Tourism Policy. [online] Available at: https://www.accessgambia.com/information/responsible-travel-policy.html [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Bah, A. (2003). Problems & benefits of tourism in the Gambia. [Gambia?]: Kerr Munyagen Consultancy.
Bah, A. (2015). Challenges of Tourism for Local Communities The Gambian Experience. 1st ed. [ebook] Gambia Tourism Concern. Available at: https://www.iz3w.org/fernweh/deutsch/aktivitaeten/Bah.pdf [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Dabour, N. (2003). Probelms and Prospects of Sustainable tourism development in OIC countries: Ecotourism. 1st ed. [ebook] Journal of Economic Cooperation. Available at: https://www.sesrtcic.org/files/article/127.pdf [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Data.worldbank.org, (2015). Gambia, The | Data. [online] Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/country/gambia [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Euromonitor.com, (2015). Travel and Tourism in Gambia. [online] Available at: https://www.euromonitor.com/travel-and-tourism-in-gambia/report [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Fund, I. (2009). The Gambia. Washington: International Monetary Fund.
Mitchell, J. and Faal, J. (2007). Holiday package tourism and the poor in the Gambia. Development Southern Africa, 24(3), pp.445-464.
Npc.gov.gm, (2015). Tourism | National Planning Commission Website The Gambia. [online] Available at: https://npc.gov.gm/sectors/tourism [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Propoortourism.info, (2015). Pro Poor Tourism - Tourism increasing benefits for poor people. [online] Available at: https://www.propoortourism.info/CaseStudies.html [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Sharpley, R. (2009). Tourism and development challenges in the least developed countries: the case of The Gambia. Current Issues in Tourism, 12(4), pp.337-358.
Statehouse.gm, (2015). Tourism in the Gambia. [online] Available at: https://www.statehouse.gm/tourism1.htm [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Topping, A. (2014). Ebola takes toll on the Gambia from beyond its borders. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/17/ebola-gambia-africa-tourism [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2014 Gambia. (2014). 1st ed. [ebook] The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Available at: https://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/economic%20impact%20research/country%20reports/gambia2014.pdf [Accessed 2 Mar. 2015].
Vaidya, N. and Nigam, N. (n.d.). Sex Trafficking as a Human Rights Issue. SSRN Journal.
Williams, M. and Williams & Associates, H. (2004). “Best Practice Case Studies In Tourism”. 1st ed.
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