Story: Youth tour guides in the Gambia emerge as first responders to COVID-19 awareness and prevention
The effects of global coronavirus pandemic are visible in the Gambia as elsewhere. The budding tourism industry in the country has taken a hit with travel bans, flight suspensions, quarantines, lockdowns and social distancing measures in place. The tourist season in the country that usually lasts until early May is over in advance this year. This has added to the loss already suffered from last year’s collapse of renowned tour operator Thomas Cook that used to account for more than 30% of arrivals.
Bringing their leadership skills into use, youth trained in community-based tourism and tour guiding under the EU-funded Youth Empowerment Project have sprung into action as first responders to protect their communities and build resilience against further impacts to the vulnerable tourism industry.
International Trade Centre in The Gambia engaged these young leaders from its community based tourism initiative and mobilized them with funding and resources to undertake an awareness campaign across the rural region of Janjanbureh, initiating the first critical step towards prevention.
They are placing informational posters on the virus and safety guidelines at prominent places, campaigning across social media platforms and installing hand-washing stations in markets and across town, helping provide practical solutions to the lack of hygiene checkpoints in the area.
These efforts will go a long way in containing the infection and building resilience in beautiful Janjanbureh, famous for the Kankurang, a masquerade tradition associated with rituals of initiation.