Tourism offers much-needed income to poor countries. But who gets the holiday money? This project supports an award winning training college and local association of tourism businesses, helping students and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) to gain a livelihood through trade, not aid.
The Institute of Travel and Tourism in The Gambia (ITTOG) provides accredited training courses in travel and tourism-related subjects, ranging from Higher Professional Diplomas to tour guiding or cabin crew and airport certificates, priding themselves in the diversity of learning opportunities they offer. All courses focus on the concept of Responsible Tourism and how to make destinations better places to live in, and better places to visit, in that order. ITTOG is partnered with Central College Nottingham in the UK, and their courses are accredited by Central College as well as by the National Training Agency of The Gambia. One of ITTOG's key focuses is their belief in the power of entrepreneurship, and they work closely with and provide support for many local tourism-related businesses, as well as running a restaurant and travel brokerage company of their own.
Many of the businesses are members of the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Responsible Tourism (ASSERT). ASSERT was established in 2000 to bring together, advocate for, and promote a large number of small enterprises that are active in the tourism industry in The Gambia.
These enterprises include craft market vendors, tourist taxi drivers, official tourist guides, juice pressers and fruit sellers, as well as a number of guest houses, small hotels and ground tour operators. ASSERT is now supporting, training and representing over 80 members and has become a leading player in the Gambian Responsible Tourism Partnership programme being led by the Gambian Tourist Authority, aiming to ensure that the adverse impacts of tourism are minimised and that maximum benefits are gained by local people and their communities.
"On revisiting The Gambia on holiday, I was amazed to hear that in just two months the project I'd worked with had moved forward at a rapid pace and the business was about to receive their second group of visitors. The spreadsheets I had created firstly for manual use and then on computer were already being used manually." Volunteer, Pat
This is pro poor tourism at its best!
ASSERT's aim is to assist and support small-scale enterprises in tourism to trade fairly and pursue sustainable development, which contributes to the conservation of the physical environment and the social and economic welfare of the community in The Gambia. ASSERTs goals are to:
contribute to improving the tourism product in The Gambia and help to bring development for the country
provide assistance to members with product development, marketing, training, quality control and access to finance
work collaboratively, promote networking and joint activities amongst members
develop partnerships with government, other institutions and external organisations where appropriate
contribute to sustainable development within the Gambian tourism industry using principles and practice of Fair Trade in Tourism
identify appropriate quality standards for members
protect small-scale business interests in the mass market tourist industry
Depending on their skills and experience, volunteers will help to develop the capacity of ITTOG and ASSERT in a variety of ways. You may be based at the college, helping to develop course modules and materials, train teachers and students and/or run courses for local businesses. Or you may be linked to a local business, helping them to develop their capacity through product development, accounting or marketing. Volunteer opportunities are many and varied in this project. Whatever your skills, you are needed to help make tourism an even greater force for good in The Gambia.
To learn more about how the volunteer programme works with this project read more here - and - here