Senegambia Tourism Trade Fair launched
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The first-ever tourism trade fare organised by the Association of Small Scale Enterprise in Tourism (ASSET) of The Gambia and Organisation Nationale des Intelgres du Tourisme Senegalaise (ONITS) of Senegal, was on November 4th, 2007, launched at the Place d'Independent, Dakar, Senegal with an optimistic resolution by both countries to shove up existing efforts for integration in commerce, trade and free movement of people, good and services within the West African sub-region.
The opening ceremony was attended by The Gambia's Secretary of State for Tourism and Culture, Angela Colley and several other officials of the Tourism Industry including the Director General of the Gambia Tourism Authority, Kaliba Senghore and stakeholders in the tourism sector.
Sheikh Tijan Nyang, Chairman of the 'Mboka' Trade Fair Committee informed journalists at a press briefing held at the Timbookto Booshop on Garba Janhumpa Road, Bakau, of the highlights of the opening ceremony, which got off to an electrifying start, with an intoxicating ambience supplied by cultural dancers, singers and acrobats from the Jola, Wollof and Fula tribes.
He added that the stands at the fair were divided into themes, such as juice and food processing, fashion design, craftmenship and culture, among others. He said stalls were also divided into two wings for participants from The Gambia and Senegal.
According to Adama Bah, Chairman of ASSET, all the major speakers at the occasion emphasised the need for closer integration between countries in the sub-region as a crucial first step toward fostering the cause of Africa Unity, and they all subscribed to the idea of using transnational fairs like Mboka to speed up the process of trade integration and movement of people within the region. The Senegalese and Gambian governments were thanked for what the speakers described as invaluable support, he added.
In a statement delivered on behalf of the Gambian Tourism and Culture Minister at the trade fair in Dakar, Senegal, Lamin Saho, Director of Marketing at the Gambia Tourism Authority described the event as historic.
"The African Union that our forefathers talked about is meaningless unless we are able to live and trade in peace between our countries. It is heartening to recognise that this great event in the history of our tourism development is championed by small enterprises in tourism.
I will say with no reservation that ONITS and ASSET have our support," she stated. SoS Colley asserted that local people have an invaluable role to play in the sustainable development of tourism. She pointed out that this therefore puts them in the centre stage of enhancing their well-being not only in the economic sense but also in the preservation of cultural and environmental heritage.
ASSET members thanked the government of The Gambia and Senegal for making it possible to organise such a successful occasion which aimed to not only enhance the volume of responsible tourism in both countries but also encourage long-lasting cross border cooperation between Gambians and Senegalese in other walks of life that could impact on tourism directly or indirectly.
Author: by Musa Ndow