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ITTOG Hosts Commonwealth Scholarship Students Of Leeds Beckett University

By Yunus S Saliu

As an extension to their study, a group of awarded Commonwealth scholarship students from Leeds Beckett University in the UK was recently hosted on their annual field trips to the Gambia by the Institute of Travel and Tour of The Gambia (ITTOG). The tour was marked with a 1st International Conference Workshop held from 23rd to 25th January 2024 with different other activities for the students.

The students were awarded Commonwealth scholarships to study Masters in Responsible Tourism Management through distance learning, they are from Ghana, Gambia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Kenya.

Lucy McCombes, a co-founder of the Ninki Nanka Encounters Foundation explained that the course took place over three years and each year the students go to a different country. “This year, they’ve come to learn about the Gambia’s responsible tourism industry as well as have some classes and attend the first international conference on responsible tourism practices and cultural heritage management” held at Sindola Safari Camp.

The students, as part of their activities, traveled around the country to compare The Gambia to other different countries they come from to learn more about practicing responsible tourism, its policy, and others.

The students, according to Lucy McCombes saw lots of potential, particularly “The River Gambia, we took them all on a river cruising tour to Janjanbureh. We saw hippos, chimpanzees.”

She described the River Cruising as a nice experience especially the rivers and the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) such as the Kankurang Cultural Festival, “It is an amazing opportunity to see all that cultural diversities. It is great!”

However, she said they went around seeing more that could still be done in terms of infrastructure and development, but “The whole product is good.”

Commenting on one of the successful Gambia tourism packages in the tourism sector, she said Ninki Nanka Trail (NNT) is very much focused on harnessing the potential of the River Gambia for the Gambian people.

But “pulling it together is a lot of work and a lot of money to sort new jetties, new accommodations, working with communities, thinking about waste management, renewable energies and about transport. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done which requires a lot of collaboration between stakeholders and a lot of resources.”

On responsible development of the Ninki Nanka Trail, Lucy McCombes said it is folklore about a mysterious dragon that lives in The River Gambia, West Africa, with supernatural powers, various interpretations, stories, and descriptions – good and bad, and it was integrated into local culture and traditions, intangible cultural heritage.

The objective is to diversify Gambian tourism products from the SSS (3s), reduce poverty, empowerment of the host communities, and create livelihood opportunities, and skills training among others.


Yunus S Saliu

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