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MOTC Institutional Director Generals Accentuate Accomplishments

By Yunus S Saliu

At a farewell event held in honor of the former Minister of Tourism and Culture, Honourable Hamat NK Bah, who has been redeployed to the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government, the institutional director generals at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture have highlighted their institutions’ achievements during his seven years of administration as Minister of the MOTC.

Honourable Hamat NK Bah was appointed Minister of Tourism and Culture by President Adama Barrow in February 2017 and maintained the position during the conducted June 2018, March 2019, and May 2022 cabinet reshuffles before the recent one that took place on Friday, 15th March 2024 whereby he was redeployed to Ministry of Lands and Regional Government and replaced with Honourable Minister Abdoulie Jobe, former Minister of Petroleum and Energy.

However, after his seven years of meritorious service at the Tourism and Culture Ministry, the Director Generals of Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard), National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), and Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute (GTHI) on Wednesday, 20th March 2024 outlined some of the achievements their institutions attained in this period under review.

Giving an overview of the GTBoard achievements in the past seven years Mr. Aboubacarr S Camara, Director General of GTBoard highlighted the notable achievements, and also outlined the constraints of his institution for the period.

“The GTBoard set objectives for the year 2021 to 2022 including delineating new sites for allocation to investors in tourism, undertaking renovation and construction of new tourism facilities such as the new TDA strip roads infrastructure and craft markets, TDA street lightening, overseeing the construction of upcountry eco-lodges and amongst other important things,” DG Camara disclosed in his introduction to the achievements of his institution.

These achievements, he noted, included the construction of GTBoard’s new head office, road infrastructure at TDA strips, construction of upcountry eco-lodges (work resumed), construction and renovation of tourism facilities that include construction of 28 stalls capacity of Palma Rima Craft market in progress, relocation of Senegambia Craft Market due to the demolition as a result of the OIC road expansion, Tourism Security Unit (TSU) new building completed while contract for construction of TSU Complex for TSU Officers at Kotu awarded to potential bidder, allocation of lands for investment which development has commenced.

More so, the GTBoard achievements included constant assessment of the tourism facilities across the country, creating more awareness about the industry through marketing activities, distributions of promotional materials to official missions, and stakeholders, constant organizing of several education trips with different tour operators, and participation in international fairs and lots more.

However, the past seven years were quite fruitful for the NCAC as all its heritage sites witnessed improvements that have added value to the sites for visitors and conservation.

Mr. Hassoum Ceesasy, Director General of the NCAC outlined the achievements of the Centre and said all the sites have been enhanced and rehabilitated, and during this period under review, “NCAC has worked with GTBoard, site host communities to evolve a tour guiding scheme, trained tour guides on interpretation of the sites, supported Gambian artists registered with the NCAC with 3 million dalasi disbursed to over 300 artists.

NCAC’s achievements, he continued, included the promulgation of the Copyright Regulations in 2018, having two UNESCO Conventions in 2022-2023, ratified of 2001 and 1970 Conventions “This means new funding windows for projects,” successfully reported on all UNESCO Conventions, completion of the first Inventory of Heritage and Monuments in Banjul, having a Road Map for conservation of Heritage in Banjul, digitization of the NCAC/RDD Oral Archive of The Gambia, completion of the pilot inventory for the 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention and also the Banjul Heritage Inventory.

The NCAC DG summarily disclosed other achievements, such as NCAC supporting artists with visa application attestations, diplomatic passports through the Ministry’s support, with the GTBoard assistance Kankurang Festival and other community festivals reviewed, successfully holding of the Miss Gambia and celebration of the Bicentenary for McCarthy in January 2024 “a big cultural and academic event that attracted high powered dignitaries hosted by His Excellency President Barrow,” these among other achievements.

Meanwhile, Mr. Momodou Lamin Singhateh, Director General of the Gambia Tourism and Hospital Institute (GTHI) highlighted his institute’s achievements saying in 2017, the institute started realizing its full potential and increased its contribution to the development of tourism with the support of 300% increase on government subvention.

During the period under review, GTHI developed a revised curriculum to international standards in tourism and hospitality, expanded program in tourism and hospitality training in rural Gambia, established a research unit, created linkages with agriculture in line with GTHI objectives, capacity building training for the staff at the Bachelor and Master’s degree levels, accreditation of all 20-teaching staff with NAQAA, construction of bakery and pastry training center, award of scholarships to students, increase employability rate from 60% to 80%, construction of Agri-food processing center with modern workshops, laboratories, sanitization rooms and lot more.

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Yunus S Saliu

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