Marketing ‘Africa’ Abroad in 2014: Gambia’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism Leads the Way

“The Gambia, which is known as the smiling coast of Africa has a lot to offer, with its cultural potential, clean beaches, arrays of five star hotels and others, peaceful disposition and conducive business environment for investors which is the ideal place to invest in West Africa.”
Angella Colly Iheme, Gambian Ambassador to Nigeria

These were the words of HE [Her Excellency] Mrs. A. C. Iheme at the Akwaaba Africa Travel Market staged in late 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria. African Ministries of Culture and Tourism have been increasingly recognising the importance of forming partnerships with various stakeholders and members of the Diaspora oversees with the aims of driving future tourism. Within academia, this is often called ‘Nation Branding’ and embodies the expertise required for actors to enhance the image of their nation worldwide. Representatives from Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda made a joint announcement of the East Africa Single Tourist Visa at the World Travel Market Summit in Europe in 2013.

As part of her recent official visit to the United Kingdom during the World Market Tourism Summit in London, Gambia’s Tourism and Culture minister Honourable Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie launched ‘Camp Africa’ at the same event in London in November 2013. With the objective of promoting Gambia’s diverse cultural and natural heritage; Camp Africa aims to develop a more positive image for the nation for tourists and ‘followers’ of Gambia abroad. Earlier in the same year, the Tourism Minister launched the Gambia Tourism and Hospitability Institute, which was a transformation of the former Gambia Hotel School. She announced that the transformation of the former Hotel School into what is now the Gambia Tourism and Hospitability Institute is in response to the skills challenge in the tourism sector and in keeping abreast of ever-changing training needs of the industry.

“Africa has a market share of only three percent in the global tourism industry. This could partly be attributed to poor training in the sector that does not match current market needs. This calls for the need to invest heavily in human resource development in order to have the requisite personnel that can deliver high quality services in tourism and hospitality. Today, the discerning tourists are spoilt for choice and will not entertain sloppiness of services. It is therefore important that we understand and master the needs of the tourists that we are out to serve.”
Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie, Gambia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture

Gambia’s Tourism Minister Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, who has often been accredited by many within the nation as creative, energetic and essential towards the growth of Gambia’s emerging Tourism industry views ‘Camp Africa’ as key to Gambia’s tourism development and represents one of the Ministry’s main objectives of implementation in 2014. The programme (which will run in Gambia) will educate local, regional and international students, academics, tourists and other interested stakeholders alike through workshops, developmental projects, intercultural dialogues, excursions and sports activities which promote sustainable tourism and provide ongoing support to health, education and developmental projects in Gambia and the rest of Africa.

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