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Boosting tourism at all fronts with craft market commission in The Gambia

By Elvis Iruh

The Honorable Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, minister of Tourism and Culture of the Gambia recently led a powerful foreign and local delegation of dignitaries including the Secretary General of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Dr. Taleb Rifai, the Deputy Regional Director for Africa at UNWTO, Mr. Helder Tomas, the Consul General of the Gambia to the Netherlands, Mr. Bert Plusquin, Dutch journalists delegation, cabinet ministers. Lord Mayor KMC and other distinguished guests and of course the traders in the market and tourists visiting the Gambia to the official opening of a newly renovated and expanded Fajara Craft market in the Gambia.

The occasion was more significant as it coincided with the Gambia's 47th Independence anniversary celebration.

According to the Honorable minister, Mrs. Jobe-Njie, the new magnificent market was structured to replace the old and outdated market and it was sponsored and constructed by Mr. Fara Shams of Construct Gambia Limited.

The new market is beauty and splendor but apart from these features, it is just at the Fajara water front which provides tourists and other users a more friendly and conducive environment to conduct their business.

In the new craft market is also a modern mosque equipped by the Gambia Hotel Association to cater for the prayer needs of many shop owners but well as for visitors alike.

Minister Jobe-Njie explained to the gathering that the idea of a modern craft market is in the vision of His Excellecny, Sheikh professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh who places a high premium on the development of Tourism in the Gambia realizing the importance in advancing national economy growth. In fact tourism alone in the past few years (2008-2010) has contributed 6% to the Gambia's GDP growth.

With an improved craft market in the Gambia, it definitely contributes to the competitiveness of the country as a leading tourism destination in Africa.

Mrs. Jobe-Njie disclosed that D5.5 million was spent in constructing the new craft market and called upon the shop owners to adapt a good maintenance culture so that the facilities will remain usable as other facilities like hotels are developed in the area. It would obviously enhance employment and create new business opportunities for the people in the area.

Mr. Rifai was invited specially to commission the new craft market in his remarks congratulated the very hardworking Gambia Tourism Minister, Mrs. Jobe-Njie whom he described as energetic and goal getting in her approach to work.

With the increase in tourism sector, it is important to have a modern craft market which is important to the industry. According to him, travelers want to return home with something that reminds them of the country they have visited and the craft market provide for such needs. “Crafts is one avenue to attract tourists and allowed them to have a piece of your country with them therefore the products must be of high quality and at reasonable price and easy to carry with them”.

“I trust this new market will be a motivation for the vendors and craftsmen in the contribution to the development of the Gambia tourism”.

The guests were extensively entertained with traditional Gambia music, light entertainment was provided before the special guest of honor declared the market open. With those remarks, Dr. Rifai officially assisted by the Minister of Tourism declared the new Fajara Crafts market open.

An emotional chairlady of the Fajara market association expressed gratitude to the minister for her tireless work to ensure they have a better place to do business. She promised that they would maintain the facility to the best of their ability.

By Elvis Iruh
Publisher, The Voice magazine in the Netherlands

Dr. Taleb Rifai officially declare the new Fajara market open in the Gambia

Gambian Tourism & Culture Minister, Mrs. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie making her remarks at the openning of the new Fajara Market

Dr. Taleb Rifai of United Nations World Tourism Organization delivers his message at the opening of the new Fajara market in the Gambia

Some dignitaries present at the market opening ceremony

Visiting tourists at the event

Colourful dancers inthe Gambia

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