By Jimoh Babatunde
The Nigerian Tourism development corporation (NTDC) and The Gambian Tourism MinistryÂ have promised to work together in tourism promotion inÂ West Africa, just as notable tour operators commendÂ Nigeria showing at the opening of ITB travel show.
This was part of theÂ decision reached after a meeting between the Tourism & Culture Minister of The Gambia, Fatou Jobe Njie and the Director general of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Otunba Segun Runsewe at the opening day of this yearÂ´sÂ Â ITBÂ travel show in Berlin, Germany Wednesday.
Otunba Olusegun Runsewe told the Gambian Minister that the West AfricanÂ countries have a lot in common and that tourists coming into any of the West African countries want to travel round and as such there is a need to form a common front to promote the region as a top tourist destination in Africa.
He said that the recently formed African Travel Promotion Initiative is a veritable platform to selling the sub region to tourists.
Hajia Fatou Jobe Njie who led the Gambian delegation to the Nigeria stand at the ITB travel fair commended the role ofÂ Nigerians in the development of her country saying that almost all Nigerian major banks are now in Gambia operating successfully.
She said her plans as the Minister of Tourism & Culture in the Gambia is to attract Nigerians to visit the country,Â â€œWe need the support of the Nigerian Tourism Development CorporationÂ as Nigeria form a big market for me. If you have ten European tourist, they are not compared to having three Nigerians visiting.â€
She added â€œ we need to create the awareness about the tourist destinations in our region and this is the only way we can leverage on what we have in common.â€
Jobe Njie pleaded with NTDC to throw its weight behind the country as they hostÂ the Africa Travel Association (ATA)â€™s 35th Annual Congress in the capital city of Banjul in May .
Fatou Jobe Njie, The Gambiaâ€™s Minister of Tourism and Culture,Â said â€œThe Gambian government places great priority on tourism, which has contributed significantly to our countryâ€™s growth and stability. We hope that the ATA Congress will help us continue to promote our country in new marketplaces and attract new investment in the sector.â€
The Gambia, known as the â€œSmiling Coast of Africa,â€ is famous for its luxurious beach resorts, quaint fishing villages and magnificent coastline, but there is much more to the affordable and safe West African country, including peaceful and friendly people, eco-tourism, sports fishing, bird watching and safaris, music, dancing and traditional wrestling matches, and visiting trans- Atlantic slave trade sites.
ATAâ€™s hallmark international event will be attended by African tourism ministers and industry experts representing tourism boards, travel agencies, ground operator companies, airlines, and hotels. Many participants from the travel trade media and the corporate, non profit and academic sectors are also expected to attend.
The four-day event will engage delegates in discussions on a range of industry topics, such as public-private sector partnership, marketing and promotion, tourism infrastructure development, industry trends, and social media.
ATA member countries will organize a few evening networking receptions and ATAâ€™s Young Professionals Network will meet with local hospitality professionals and students. For the second year, the congress will also include a marketplace for buyers and sellers specializing in Destination Africa.