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Gambia Joins Most Influential Figures To Extract Wealth Of Insights At WTM 2023

By Yunus S Saliu

The Destination Gambia team led by the Honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, on Monday, 6th November 2023 joined over 180 countries and more than 3000 exhibitors to attend the World Tourism Market (WTM) 2023 holdings at Excel London.

The three-day summit kicked off on the 6th of November in its 17th year, the summit is the world’s most significant annual gathering of tourism ministers with a real opportunity to witness debate and policy that will elicit that change all want.

This year WTM has more than 60 sessions and eight conference tracks covering a full suite of critical learnings and support for the year ahead.

Talking about the importance of the World Travel Market (WTM) to The Gambia, Honourable Hamat NK Bah, the Minister of Tourism and Culture (MOTC) disclosed that over 40% of the tourists to the Gambia come from the UK “That’s why it is key and very important to the Gambia Tourism sector. As a result of that, we believe that every time the WTM is organized we would be here to promote Destination Gambia.”

Promoting the Destination in this large forum, Minister Bah noted that different relevant stakeholders which included Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Gambia International Airline (GIA), Tour Operators, Hoteliers, Tourism Consultants, Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) and more are all present while the “Ministry of Tourism and Culture leading it.”

However, “We are using the summit’s opportunity to engage our partners to discuss with them some of the after-effects of COVID-19. We are recovering and moving fast we are almost there but there are still some challenges we need to address by sharing ideas with them on how best we can level the ground to help things go back to normalcy,” Minister Bah expressed.

In one of his meetings, Minister Bah engaged Mr Balala, one of the service Tourism Ministers in Africa who had worked with different countries for 13 years but now working with the Tony Blair Institute, to help promote Gambia tourism by putting the destination in their program.

Aboubacarr S Camara, the Director General of the Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) described the WTM as a one-stop shop “to exhibit and discuss what we have as a destination in one country.”

He noted that the Gambia joining the rest of the destinations to attend one of the largest summits in the world is a blessing in disguise, it allows us to showcase what the Gambia can offer our potential visitors and investors.”

He stressed that “Destination Gambia is very much known by the British, one of our key source markets. So coming to the UK to attend the World Travel Market can only add to the value of number of the tourists we receive from the UK as our visitors in The Gambia. Right now we already have flights from the UK through The Gambia Experience and also TUI UK and we expect to have about 4 flights to the Gambia from the TUI UK and Gambia Experience 3. Therefore, we will continue to put our footprint in the UK market.”

He emphasized that one of the Gambia’s key partners from the UK is The Gambia Experience and TUI UK with other chartered flights.

Adama Njie, Director of Tourism Promotion for the GTBoard UK affirmed that the WTM is a very important trade fair and it is the second biggest trade fair in the world “which more than 180 countries converge under one roof to attend, “it is a number one and of course, we cannot afford to miss it.”

And “herein WTM we are promoting the Gambia in totality, and everybody is aware of the Gambia, The Smiling Coast of Africa and we sell our hospitality, fantastic eco-camps, sustainable tourism, friendly atmosphere, culture, and the list goes on.”

Amina Touray, Director of Marketing Promotion GTBoard for the Nordic Market emphasised the importance of the WTM while noting that lots of the Nordic are visiting the destination stand at the exhibition.

The Nordic market, she said, is essential to the Gambia noted that Bertil Harding Highway was named after a Swedish who had visited the Gambia in the 1960s and discovered the country’s potential in tourism while later getting tour operators to the destination.

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