The Gambia International Bird Festival got underway in Tendeba in the Lower River Region on Friday.
The opening ceremony of the maiden edition of this first international bird festival in The Gambia was attended by a host of dignitaries, including senior government officials, amongst a host others.
Presiding over the official opening of the event on behalf of the Tourism and Culture minister, the chairman of the Board of Governing Council of the GTBoard, Bakary K. Jammeh welcomed and thanked everyone especially the international birders for making it to the maiden edition of the Festival.
He said the Festival is meant to strengthen Destination Gambia’s profile as the number one birding destination in this part of Africa. He further noted that the Festival has a very strong community and responsible tourism dimension as 50% of the proceeds realised from this worthy initiative would be allocated to support the conservation of one of the highly rated birding destinations in the Tourism Development Area – Kotu Creek.
Chairman Jammeh described the destination as a paradise for many reasons and it is a dreamland for birds and those who love watching them in their sanctuary.
On behalf of GTBoard and entire tourism stakeholders, he expressed his sincere gratitude to His Excellency the President and his government for the tremendous support given to the tourism sector and by extension to Tourism minister for the support.
Among the aims and objectives of the festival is to promote rural and community tourism, support birding and conservation of birding destinations across the length and breadth of Destination Gambia, particularly the highly rated Kiang West National Park.
On the sidelines of the event, the director general of The Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) Abdoulie Hydara unveiled the Bird of The Gambia identified and branded as the ‘Bird of the Festival’, which is a black crowned crane known as ‘Kumareh’ in The Gambia.
The festival was organised by the GTBoard in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture as well as the various tourism stakeholders such as the Gambia Bird Watching Association and various authoritative overseas partners to raise the profile of bird watching in the country.
In his address, Abdoulie Hydara said the festival is a milestone in the annals of Gambian tourism. He said this is the first time a festival of this nature is rolled out to celebrate bird watching and elevate the product as a major niche in GTBoard’s product portfolio.
DG Hydara noted that Destination Gambia is endowed with abundant peace and tranquility including a range of attractions that serve as magnet to attract tourists and visitors to the shores of the Smiling Coast.
Salifu Puye, governor of the Lower River Region, Demba Sanyang; chief of Kiang Central, and the representative of the minister of Environment and the alkalo of Tendaba all delivered speeches at the opening ceremony.
by Yunus S. Saliu