Story: Swiss Foreign Minister visits Gambia’s tourism school
With the tourism sector accounting for approximately 20% of The Gambia's gross domestic product (GDP), and driving job creation in the country, the Swiss Foreign Minister, H.E. Ignazio Cassis, called on the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute during a recent state visit to The Gambia. His visit stressed the importance of the tourism industry for the Gambian economy. It also offered an opportunity to exchange with students, returnees and young Gambian entrepreneurs supported by the European Union-funded Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) on the industry’s future and the role of young Gambians shaping it.
Created 40 years ago, the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute is now the country’s leading training centre for vocational and technical training. It plays an essential role in improving the employability of young Gambians, thus enhancing the industry's overall competitiveness.
The tourism sector is instrumental in absorbing the return migrant workforce thanks to their soft skills and interests. Up to 15% of students in YEP-supported programmes are returnees. The industry also has strong potential to provide quality jobs and alternatives to irregular migration.
Absa Jallow is one of the returnees currently enrolled at the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute through YEP, where he is training to be a chef. He says, “When I returned to The Gambia, I faced a lot of stigma from people. Through this training, I hope to open my own restaurant someday and employ other young people.”
ITC has been supporting the Institute through YEP, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, of which Switzerland is a contributor. The partnership covers developing new and improved market-led curricula, training teachers and funding around 600 scholarships for young Gambians.
In 2019, the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute established its first training centres in rural areas, namely Janjanbureh in Central River Region, and Farafenni in North Bank Region. These centres give easier access to quality skills training for Gambians residing upriver.
Director General Daouda Nyang says, “Youth have always been at the core of the work we do at the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute. The partnership with YEP has been beneficial to many young Gambians from poor households. The trainings opened up a window of opportunities to youth who now have a means of livelihood and are supporting themselves and their families.”
The COVID-19 crisis has hit tourism in The Gambia hard. The pandemic’s consequences have not only affected hotels, camps and tour operators but also Gambians working in the informal sector, such as taxi drivers or vegetable gardeners. However, industry representatives remain confident that the sector will bounce back strongly.
The sector demonstrated resilience in the face of the recent crises such as the Ebola outbreak and the collapse of Thomas Cook, which was responsible for 30% of incoming tourists. This augurs well for the post-COVID-19 recovery. The Gambia’s rich historical and cultural heritage and the abundance of intact nature and biodiversity allow the smallest country on the African continent to position itself at the forefront of the trend towards more inclusive and sustainable tourism.
About YEP – the project is part of the Tekki Fii Programme, a flagship initiative of the Government of The Gambia with the aim to reduce migration pressures through increased job opportunities and income prospects for youth. YEP takes a market-driven approach and enhances employability and self-employment opportunities for youth, with a focus on vocational training and small business support. At the same time, the project creates and improves employment opportunities in selected sectors through value addition and market linkages. YEP focuses on a number of traditional sectors such as agriculture and tourism. The project also helps diversify the Gambian economy by supporting ‘new’ sectors, including the creative and digital services industries. YEP is funded through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. For more information, please visit: http://www.yep.gm
Entrepreneurship Development Centre,
Sait Matty Road, Bakau, The Gambia
Abdoulie Badjie, Media & Communications Officer – YEP
Tel. +220 3900088 I abadjie [at] intracen.org I yep [at] intracen.org
About the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa – The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) supports all aspects of stability and contributes to addressing destabilization, forced displacement and irregular migration in particular by promoting resilience, economic and equal opportunities, security and development, and the improvement and implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies. The EUTF aims at improving living conditions in Africa. It seeks to help people live in a peaceful and stable environment, and to work in dignity. EUTF projects worth 38 million Euros are currently under implementation in The Gambia. For more information, visit https://ec.europa.eu/trustfundforafrica/ and facebook.com/EUinTheGambia