Policy for The Gambia 2002:
"This Responsible Tourism Policy has been
prepared by the Responsible Tourism Partnership and
has been produced and agreed through a multi-stakeholder
Tourism is important in The Gambia. The government's
policy is to promote tourism and its contribution to
economic growth. Our objective is to increase the contribution
of tourism to our economy and to raise the living standards
of Gambians. The government
is continuing its efforts to broaden the tourism market,
improve quality standards, and ensure rational use of
the Tourism Development Area.
We recognise that in order to achieve this objective
it is in our interest to work together with those who
bring tourists and with the industry here in The Gambia.
We share the aspirations of the Cape Town Declaration
on Responsible Tourism. It is the responsibility of
all stakeholders to join with us to create better places
for people to live in and for people to visit.
We are committed to the realisation of Responsible Tourism
in The Gambia. Consistent with the principles of responsible
tourism we, the Responsible Tourism Partnership, seek
to maximise positive impacts and to minimise the negative
ones. Legislation plays a significant role in creating
the framework for tourism and for achieving responsible
We recognise that much can be achieved though partnerships
to achieve a more balanced relationship between hosts
and guests in The Gambia, and to create better places
for local communities to live in. It is the responsibility
of government, local communities and Gambian and originating
market businesses to co-operate in practical joint initiatives
to realise responsible tourism.
The Gambia is its people. The diverse peoples of The
Gambia are what distinguishes our country from the many
other winter sun and sun, sand and sea destinations.
The cultural heritage of our people is our primary tourism
This policy is a call to action in order to combat some
of the inequalities and negative impacts of tourism.
It comes at a time when The Gambia has a desperate need
to re-launch its image of being a cheap winter sun destination
that is dominated by the mass tourist market. At the
same time elements such as sex tourism, hassle and environmental
degradation need to be tackled. This policy is addressed
to the whole of the tourism industry, government and
the Gambia Tourism Authority. It identifies objectives
to achieve responsible marketing of the destination
and to deal with issues of economic, social and environmental
It is envisaged that implementation of this policy will
come through the Responsible Tourism Partnership which
is a multi stakeholder action group that represents
all interested parties working in the tourism arena.
In terms of implementation, working documents are already
in existence that include 5 year targets and an annual
To make The Gambia a better place to visit and a better
place to live in recognising that it is the interaction
between guests and hosts in a secure and enjoyable environment
that is the experience of The Gambia and which encourages
people to return. Our vision will be realised by addressing
the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental
responsibility and by engaging with product development
and marketing. The Responsible Tourism Partnership is
a national partnership between different government
ministries, NGOs, the private and public sectors and
communities formed to promote our shared vision for
tourism in The Gambia. We propose to agree an annual
programme for change and development and to agree targets
for each year. These targets will be used to enable
us to monitor and report progress.
We recognise that tourism is of considerable importance
to The Gambian economy and to the lives of people in
The Gambia. Tourism has the potential to bring jobs
and livelihoods to Gambians and to make The Gambia a
better place to live in. We recognise that the safety
and security of visitors and the community is important
if tourism is to contribute to raising the living standards
of communities in The Gambia.
We need to develop a more diverse product in order to
continue to attract people from our established markets
and from new ones we are aware that tourists seek
a variety of experiences and that the traditional sun,
sand and sea holiday market is increasingly competitive
and in decline. The Gambia and its people have much
to offer international visitors and the Responsible
Tourism Partnership works with all stakeholders in the
industry Gambian and international to grow the industry
in ways which maximise the benefits (economic, social
and environmental) to The Gambia.
The Gambia has a rich cultural diversity with several
different ethnic groups including the Mandinka (42%
of the population), Fula (18%), Wolof (16%), Jola (10%),
and Serahuli (9%). The people of The Gambia are one
of our major tourism assets it is important that along
with our colleagues in the originating markets we develop
tourism products which enable our visitors to enjoy
the cultural diversity and to have positive interactions
with our communities, sharing something of our local
living culture. We recognise that we need to work with
colleagues in the originating markets and in The Gambia
to enhance the quality of the interaction between our
communities and visitors to improve the experience
for hosts and guests.
Tourism in The Gambia has developed in the coastal strip.
Whilst we recognise that it is largely our beaches and
climate that will continue to attract tourists to this
destination, there is increasing interest in the inland
area along the river and that over the next decade tourism
will develop in the rural areas, the bird watching sector
will grow, as will other opportunities to experience
the countryside and to interact with rural communities.
The Responsible Tourism Partnership will encourage the
development of tourism in the rural areas and along
the river and will work to create a framework within
which capital can be raised for small-scale investments.
We will encourage this development in ways which meet
the objectives of ecotourism. We will encourage the
development of tourism initiatives which bring supplementary
livelihood opportunities to local communities; help
to fund the conservation of our natural and cultural
heritage; and provide visitors with enjoyable and high
quality experiences. It is important that in The Gambia
these new products, often locally owned and small scale,
are marketed to tourists in the Tourism Development
Area. Our objective is that all forms of tourism should
contribute to these objectives all our visitors should
have the opportunity to experience more of The Gambia.
The Tourism Development Area is a very small part of
what we have to offer. The remainder of this policy
document is in four sections dealing with the issue
of marketing and the triple bottom line of economic,
social and environmental sustainability.
Marketing The Gambia to Achieve Our Vision:
The way in which The Gambia is marketed is a central
part of the process of implementing responsible tourism
principles in The Gambia. We seek to grow the industry
by attracting market segments which value the natural
and cultural heritage assets of The Gambia. We seek
to differentiate The Gambia from other sun, sand and
sea destinations we enjoy high levels of repeat business
and we seek to build on those elements of the product
which encourage repeat visiting. We recognise that the
further development of the industry in The Gambia, and
investment in it, is dependent upon planning and product
development which meet the requirements of the evolving
market. We also recognise that we can influence the
kinds of tourists that we attract by the way n which
we develop and present The Gambia as a tourism product.
We will achieve this by:
on product richness and quality, not just on price;
choosing to attract market segments which are
attracted by the diversity of our natural and cultural
heritage and the strength and diversity of our living
encouraging the development and
marketing of complementary products;
local capacity to enrich the product offer by providing
a diversity of high quality tourism products and services
through SMMEs and community organisations generally
in partnership with established national and international
recognising that marketing plays
a critical role in educating tourists about the local
cultures; and by ensuring that they get the most out
of their holiday by enjoying positive interactions with
local communities. Pre-arrival education plays a key
role in achieving responsible tourism in any destination;
ensuring the health, safety and security of visitors,
recognising that this is critical to the success of
tourism; and that health, safety and security are also
important to our communities who also benefit from initiatives
in this area;
using the concept of responsibility
to connect our products and services in The Gambia to
the European market trend towards more experiential
and responsible products;
ensuring that our
tourism product is accessible to all including disabled
working with the national and international
industry to ensure that the images we use to promote
The Gambia are socially inclusive and do not give cause
for offence to communities in The Gambia and
identifying and promoting best practice and building
on our successes.
2. Economic Responsibility:
We recognise that it is important that local communities
are involved in and benefit from tourism and that this
has the potential to enrich The Gambia as a destination
and will increase both national and local community
earnings from tourism.
There are three major objectives to be achieved over
the next five years:
Assess economic impacts as a pre-requisite to developing
- Extend the season to create better employment conditions
and to provide a stronger base for local economic development.
- Increase the contribution from tourism to the maintenance
of our cultural heritage, traditional ways of life and
wildlife and habitats.
- Encourage business relationships between originating
market companies and local and emerging entrepreneurs.
- Consider the opportunity costs of tourism for the
local communities and their livelihoods, and be prepared
to accept that there may be more appropriate economic
opportunities for people in their area.
- Maintain and encourage economic diversity, avoiding
over-dependency on tourism.
- Ensure that tourism initiatives and investments contribute
to local economic development strategy and avoid developments
which negatively impact on local communities.
- Ensure that market and financial feasibility assessments
are competently completed before raising expectations
and exposing the community or local entrepreneurs to
local economic benefits by increasing linkages and
- Encourage and strengthen the informal sector to become
part of the formal sector,
through partnership and other business linkages by encouraging
- Encourage accommodation and tour operating businesses
to co-operate in order to enrich the product; increase
average length of stay and visitor spend; assist local
smmes to establish themselves and market new products
and services; and grow, creating additional jobs and
other livelihood opportunities, by developing complementary
- Maximise economic benefits for local communities by
encouraging tourists to purchase locally produced crafts
- Encourage formal sector businesses, individually and
together, to source goods and
services from the local community; and to assist with
the development of the local capacity to supply tourism
goods and services consistently, at appropriate price
and quality and on a sufficient scale to meet the requirements
of the industry. We shall work with the industry to
achieve these objectives and encourage them to provide
visitor feedback on their products and provide marketing,
training and managerial support.
- Encourage tour operators be more innovative in their
itineraries, by for example including markets, local
museums, heritage sites, arts and crafts and local restaurants
in their tour itineraries, and by doing so encourage
- Recognises that excessive competition in the informal
sector contributes to hassling and undermines both quality
and livelihood opportunities. We will work with the
formal and informal sectors to diversify provision and
to match supply and demand.
We will work in a spirit of partnership with all stakeholders
to achieve our responsible tourism objectives. We will:
- work with the formal and informal sectors to identify
partnerships and joint initiatives which can assist
in the development of the tourism industry in the gambia.
- seek to establish targets for improving the quality
of the tourism experience in the Gambia and for improving
revenues to the national economy and in particular to
- report annually on the progress made towards achieving
our objectives. transparency is essential in ensuring
accountability and developing trust. We will encourage
self regulation but this is only possible within a framework
of transparent reporting.
Tourism provides opportunities for human interaction;
at its best these relationships can take the form, traditional
in African culture of those between hosts and guests,
(traditions which are still strong in The Gambia). However,
tourism can also bring social problems and we will work
with the formal and informal sectors, government and
local communities to address the issues which arise.
There are two major tasks:
a. Involve local communities
in planning and decision making.
participation by all stakeholders, the formal and informal
sectors, government and communities.
the local community by creating opportunities for them
to engage with the process of planning for tourism development
in the gambia.
Develop awareness of the positive
aspects of tourism and of ways of mitigating negative
impacts, through education within the school curriculum,
and public education initiatives
Pay particular attention
to practical strategies involving all stakeholders to
prevent the sexual exploitation of children.
Assess social impacts in the tourism development process,
and planning, to maximise positive impacts and minimise
Maintain and encourage social and cultural diversity.
Tourism development should not compromise respect
for social, cultural and religious rights.
Be sensitive to the host cultures of The Gambia and
encourage recognition of their richness.
Use local guides (and encourage them to continually
improve their quality) to ensure that the community
speaks for itself and to increase the revenues going
into the local community.
for visitors to interact with locals as equals in a
structured and guided manner.
Develop a local
social contract with participation and contributions
from the community for interactions and behaviour between
the local community and tourists.
social and cultural impacts associated with tourism
(such as increased crime, drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution
and child sex abuse) should be monitored and action
should be taken with local communities to minimise negative
impacts and enhance positive ones.
The natural environment of The Gambia is an important
resource for the tourism industry; it is in the interest
of the industry that it is conserved. The tourism industry
is also a major consumer of natural resources and its
environmental impacts need to be managed, particularly
where its impacts adversely affect other stakeholders.
a. Tourism planning
We will work with government and environmental agencies
ensure that tourism planning policy recognises
that the natural environment is a vital resource for
the livelihoods of communities as well as being a major
identify areas which should
stay free of development;
identify land ownership
and resource use conflicts and mitigate them.
b. Tourism should be
developed and managed so as to ensure that it has minimal
encourage the use of environmental assessment
tools to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts
of tourism development;
raise awareness among
all stakeholders about the importance of adopting an
environmentally sustainable approach and ensure the
management of waste through reducing, reusing and recycling;
encourage tourists to use recycling and other
waste reduction methods;
about the importance of the natural environment, both
identify best practice through
a consultation process;
establish an environmental
code of conduct and a code of practice;
ways of using legislation, incentives, tax concessions
and technical assistance to ensure that tourism in the
gambia has fewer negative environmental impacts;
maintain and encourage natural diversity by encouraging
enterprises to invest a percentage of profit or turnover
in species conservation and habitat restoration and
management; and by encouraging the development of natural
heritage attractions which can also ensure conservation
of habitats and species.
of This Policy:
The multi-stakeholder participants of the Responsible
Tourism Partnership have agreed a series of five year
targets in order to meet the objectives of this policy.
Additionally, an annual work plan and monitoring tool
has been worked up.
Some of the objectives are more appropriate to other
bodies and organisations and to subcommittees of the
Gambia Tourism Authority. These organisations, in collaboration
with the Responsible Tourism Partnership, have been
asked to implement those aspects of this policy for
which they are responsible."
The report of the SIT project carried out by Adama Bah,
Harold Goodwin and Dilys Roe outlines the multi-stakeholder
process used in The Gambia and the programme of the
STI project in 2002.