The Case of Development of One Chosen Tourist Destination
The resort that I have chosen to look at as a tourist destination to re develop is Banjul. Banjul is one of the smallest capital cities in the African continent and has a population of just 50,000 approx. Banjul has somewhat of a unique location as it is almost an island within a country, it is situated between the ocean and the mouth of the Gambian river that runs through all of the Gambia. Banjul is separated from the mainland by a narrow creek.
The reason I have chosen Banjul as my resort to look at is the fact that this resort and the country of the Gambia itself is one of the poorest nations in the world and responsible tourism development within the country would benefit the local people economically and improve the standard of life for the local inhabitants. The first thing that I would look at is what this resort had to offer to potential tourists and how to make this resort an attractive tourist destination. The climate of the Gambia like many African destinations can offer the tourist winter sun. Gambia has a tropical climate and the hot, but sometimes rainy, season is from June to November, The cooler but often dryer season is from November to May (CIA – The world factbook). The best time for tourists to travel to the Gambia is probably between November and March as conditions are dry and sunny but still relatively cool due to the Harmattan wind that blows from the Sahara desert. During this time it is also the local trading season (this runs from December to February) and the character of the lively markets are a great selling point. The country’s wet season is between June and October but still has about 5 to 6 hours of sunshine a day. Most current day tours to the Gambia from the United Kingdom and other European countries (most notably Germany and Holland) are run during the countries dry season but I would try to make the resort an all year tourist destination. Because of the climate this resort is definitely a place that should be marketed at professional people and families, also if these tourist holidays were marketed at people travelling from the United Kingdom then they would have to be at somewhat of a comfortable financial status to be able to afford the airfare. As well as the climate another great selling point for the resort and the whole of Gambia is the fact that all the residents speak English (official Language) as it is an old British colony (gained Independence 18/02/1965) so this would be very convenient to British tourists as they could speak there own language. In my opinion Banjul is the best resort in the Gambia to focus on and re-develop because it is the most accessible to international tourism, it is the only place within the whole country that has an airport (Banjul International).
I would look at the different types of tourism that Banjul and the Gambia could incorporate, I would then market Banjul at two different types of tourist in particular to try and make it a popular destination all year round. I would first use the climate as I have stated earlier in order to attract tourist for the winter sun, this is a tool that is used to great affect for tourism in the Canary Islands. I would secondly encourage more eco-tourism and nature based holidays. For the winter sun style holidays I would get in contact with hotels and accommodation and group all these aspects together just like a package holiday for families. In these holidays I would give people the option to indulge in nature based tourism as well as spending two weeks on a beach i.e. Costa del sol, package type holidays. I would have a basic package in the peak weather season of your flight, accommodation and breakfast and then have an option to upgrade your holiday to include tours of the local area and cultural trips. I would encourage all places of accommodation to just offer a bed and breakfast service, my reason for this would be to encourage tourists to eat at local restaurants that were ran by the locals of Banjul. This would help the local restaurants make money, I would give the tourists a list of restaurants and bars etc and a map to show them were these places were and then hopefully they would possibly eat at a different locally owned restaurant on every day of their stay in Banjul.
I would also of course promote eco-tourism all year round but I would focus on this even more during the wet season to try to get the tourism to the resort flowing in all year round. Eco-tourism is a great way to generate both money and interest for the local people. It is financially very rewarding because it costs little or nothing to set up. A good example of this is at Kololi beach, ‘The Gambian local fishermen provide a tourist attraction as they continue their traditional activity, involving willing tourists in pulling in the nets as they go’(pro-poor tourism – lecture notes week 1). Nature based tourism is also a great way to market this resort to potential tourists. Banjul offers many attractions for key bird watchers and other animal enthusiasts as well as King West National Park.
There are two main things that I would set up if I were working for a Non-Governmental Organisation re-developing the resort of Banjul the first would be a focus group. I would gather together a group of elected people from all the local industries that can benefit from tourism i.e. accommodation, local guides, restaurateurs, craftsmen, farmers etc and get them to discuss how they can help each other, generate increased revenue, promote each others businesses, create new employment etc. I would set up these focus groups to be held every six months so that any problems could be tackled on a fairly regular basis. I would get the whole resort working together so that the local people could help each other and make sure the income generated from tourism was getting put back into the local community. If local people help promote each others businesses it would be a great boost to local economy e.g. a tourist could stay at a hotel that just offers bed and breakfast and the hotel could recommend that the tourist eats in a local restaurant that buys locally farmed goods etc.
On the eco-tourism side I would employ local people over the age of 18 to be tour guides for the local attractions of the resort. My reasons for putting an age restriction on the tour guides are to help the locals to become educated to a higher level. Currently in the Gambia it is very common for tourists to be approached on the beaches and popular tourism spots by young men ‘Bomsas’ who try to befriend tourists and act as guides to the local area (www.tourismconcern.org). Many of these young men pay truant from school in an attempt to earn some money. I would encourage tourists to only take tours from locals who have been employed as tour guides. The tour that I would set up around Banjul would feature the main attractions of the Gambia’s capital city such as the lively Albert market where locally produced goods and souvenirs could be purchased. Also historical sites from when the Gambia was a British colony (the MacCarthy square war memorial etc), the National Museum and the main waterway (Oyster Creek) that separates the island from the mainland.
I would also recommend that the tourists bring writing materials with them such as biros etc to give to the local children of Banjul as gifts rather than money, the reason for this is the fact that school is free in the Gambia but the parents of the children have to pay for their writing materials, pens, pencils and paper.
The second main thing that I would introduce in my re-development to this resort would be to produce a handbook for tourists, in this handbook I would make tourists aware of local customs and culture so that they would respect the local’s beliefs and would not have an adverse affect on them. In this handbook I would also seek to educate the tourists on the importance of pro-poor tourism and show them the benefits that this has to the local people of Banjul and the Gambia. I would also highlight local businesses, trades, enterprises and attractions etc that they could support during there stay. This handbook would be given to the tourists on the flight over to Banjul so that they would hopefully have read it by the time that they arrive.
I would also actively encourage all local businesses that had anything to do with the holidays/activities that I was organising to recruit local people use local labour and local resources. There are many organisations in developing countries that employ local and therefore help to improve the local economy and standard of life in these areas. An example of this is Wilderness Safaris, ‘Wilderness Safaris South Africa, which operates lodges in partnership with local communities has a local employment policy that means that all staff except management are recruited from the local area. The company also has a training programme that enables local people to advance in the company’ (pro-poor tourism – lecture notes week 1). I would possibly have to use many businesses that were not locally owned i.e. hotels but when I did I would encourage local trade and local employment and set up a minimum pay requirement for everyone involved with my scheme to ensure that local people are not exploited. I would also set up meetings between local people who want to set up businesses with people both local and external who are established businesspeople so locals could get sound advice and possibly pick up new skills. Any services that were taken on from overseas i.e. construction workers would be forced to show and teach local people how to work in their trade. I would also set up a ranking and point system for hotels like the star system in hospitality to do with the recruitment and training development for Banjul’s local people. I would award ten points to a hotel that employed lots of local people and helped the community and one point to a hotel that did nothing for the local area and people. I would try to get these ratings printed in brochures on the country and encourage tourists to try and use the hotels with higher ratings. I would also possible try to increase airport tax when tourists leave the Gambia (it is about £12 at the moment) and plough the extra profits back into the country.
I would approach all the major tour operators that supply holidays to the Gambia (Thompson Holidays, First Choice, Airtours) and try to get them to incorporate these guide lines and increase the amount of tourism that goes in Banjul and the Gambia. All year round tourism would benefit everyone and im sure that these companies would see that. I would get them to incorporate more nature based and ecotourism to this destination like some of the smaller operators (Hidden Gambia – Eco-tourism and Wildlife trips, The Gambia experience). These trips would offer a culturally enlightening experience as well as a highly marketable climate. Ecotourism is now hugely popular and would make big tour operators a lot of money on top of the money that the local people would be earning. I feel that responsible tourism and the education of tourists are the two main issues to look at and promote with this destination. If all tourists try to help the local people of Banjul in someway then their life quality can improve.