In The Gambia as part of an ICRT Leeds Met Africa initiative
with our West Africa sister organisation ICRT-WA for a series of workshops with
ASSET, the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism, the Gambian
Tourism Authority and the Kartong Association for Responsible Tourism – it is now
a rare privilege to work at the village level. The ICRT has two alumni
completing their Masters from The Gambia and a marketing officer planning to start
at Leeds Met in September; and we have one of our centenary PhD students,
Louise Dixey, researching ASSET. It is an active and enriching partnership.
The partnership began with an encounter with Adama Bah at
the Commission on Sustainable Development at the UN in 1999. He persuaded me
that if I came to The Gambia for a workshop we would do some interesting things
together. I dug into my pocket for the airfare and a partnership was formed.
That workshop led to the creation of ASSET, still unique in the world, and to
the DFID funded action research which demonstrated that increasing market
access and improving product could dramatically improve the earnings of the poor
from tourism. Adama was right – the partnership blossomed.