The DG of the Gambian Tourism Authority was clearly impressed by the presentations made by our ICRT Masters students who had worked in groups with Gambian counterparts on four particularly difficult issues. The DG thinks that he will be able to implement four of the proposals on All Inclusives, governance and the Responsible Tourism Partnership and a series of events at the beginning of the season designed to ensure that the overseas operators and representatives are introduced to The Gambia and its tourism potential in the best possible way. This course, like its predecessors, has contributed to making The Gambia a better place to live in and a better place to visit.
Our students gain from sharing ideas and learning with the Gambians who come from the formal and informal sectors of the industry, they come to a shared understanding of the issues and work to develop solutions which are practical and which advance the Responsible Tourism agenda. It provides a unique learning experience for our students and at the same time contributes to the development of tourism in The Gambia.
Key themes of the destinations module ? multi-stakeholder partnerships, place identity, the tragedy of the commons are very apparent in The Gambia and conflicts are arising again between the informal sector and the hoteliers and operators. TUI is cutting two flights a week for the next winter season and The Gambia’s new competitor Cape Verde is growing fast. The recession is hitting The Gambia hard as holidaymakers reduce their expenditure in resort and tour operators squeeze rates.
Our next joint course in December 2009 will address the recession directly working at the issues which arise when an originating market recession impacts in a dependent destination ? hotels and ground handlers are being squeezed, numbers are declining. The informal and formal sectors need to respond and to find new opportunities for product development. More sensitively informal sector operators have to look at their pricing structures to see how they can maximise their earnings in more difficult market conditions: a new challenge for The Gambia and our Masters students. Some of the informal sector producers by failing to review their prices are becoming a barrier for other informal sector producers ? this will surely lead to conflict within the informal sector and between the formal and informal sectors.